Gloria Ferris

one woman’s view from a place by the zoo in the city

Do We Dare Hope?

with 3 comments


Lately, in news stories and on blogs I have read a lot of criticism about my generation–the boomers.  Some of it deserved. some of it written by journalists and bloggers who are obviously not boomers.  Even when we were younger, our parents’ generation called us the “me” generation so a lot of what is written is nothing new.  We have heard it time and time again throughout our lives.

We grew up in a time when thinking about “me” was possible.  it didn’t mean that we were not aware of what was going on all around us or that we didn’t care.  I graduated in 1968.  Graduation is a time when the whole world is right there in front of you ripe for the taking.  This is what was happening in my world and my friends’ worlds-The TET Offensive,  Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, Bobby Kennedy’s assassination,  The Chicago 7, the looting and burning of our cities,  many of my friends, at 18, went to Vietnam. Yet, we dared to hope. We hoped that someone with the vision of MLK or RFK would step up and be able to right our world.

In 1970, things had gone from bad to worse.  The invasion of Cambodia began.  On May 4, Kent State experienced a tragedy that no college campus should have in their history, and ten days later on May 14, Jackson State experienced the very same tragedy.    Many of our friends who had been to Vietnam were now home telling us that the stories in the press didn’t tell the truth.  “If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem” cropped up everywhere on campus-sidewalks, walls, signs.  Nothing was safe.  The environmental phrase had ventured in to every aspect that we who could not vote were trying to change the only way we knew how by shouting, by writing, by standing up and refusing to believe what we were hearing and seeing were the only alternatives open to us.

In 1973, we were beginning our lives in the “real world”-the world of opportunity and work.  The fall of Saigon happened.  Soldiers coming home from Vietnam were met with contempt, disdain, and unemployment as if they were some how to blame for America’s plight.  College students were met with distrust and unemployment.  Everyone suffered from high prices, inflation, and the threat of unemployment.  Me,  a month before the school year started had no offers of employment.  Two weeks before the school bells rang,  I had three.

Today, the world is changing quickly.  What my cohorts and I experienced is the past.  We can do nothing about the past, but we can do something in the present.  Someone very close to me says that we are getting a second chance.  This time we need to get it right.  I believe that.  And I believe that as a boomer I have the chance to make things turn out differently this time.  Sometimes, we need to go through troubled times to understand what can be done differently.

As boomers, we have real choice in the coming election,  we can vote.   What we cannot afford to forget is what we experienced in 1968 when we did not have the right to vote.  This time the future is in our hands.  This time we can change the world.  I hope that we all have the nerve to look back, remember, and jump feet first into uncharted waters.  After all, what do we have if we don’t have hope.


Written by Gloria Ferris

September 1st, 2008 at 12:05 pm

3 Responses to 'Do We Dare Hope?'

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  1. Good points. Voting is part of the overall work to be done, but we need to disabuse ourselves of the notion that the outcome will alter significantly the flow of events. That is up to us, and us alone as a people. Our elected brothers and sisters have proven over the last 40 years that they know how to take care of themselves and how to monopolize the dialogue, but they’re not getting the job done overall. We need to open up the dialogue to engage all voices; we cannot leave the facilitation to the elected ones and to the traditional media and their public-relations/advertising cohorts. They have a tendency to sell out one faction to gain favor with the faction that pays them more over the short run. They do not have a long-range vision, when it comes to everyday actions.

    Keep this in mind every time you hear somebody talking about things like tags, keywords, and positioning: We’re 50 years past Vance Packard’s blazing exposes, yet we have merely succeeded in making more perfect the manipulations, the steering and the slanting of the dialogue. When you have created and nurtured a sub-industry devoted to rewriting news/advertising/PR messages to maximize the positioning and the occurrences, you have a situation in which people are paid for hijacking the spontaneous and debasing basic truths; this analyzing and selling out of the dialogue slows progress. It allows the fakirs to dress themselves, for a while, in the robes of the righteous, until the dialogue changes once again. We merely need to be aware of this. I see it back-firing to the point where the fakirs take themselves down, having put other peoples’ words into their own mouths once too often.

    I’m beginning to figure out the real reasons advertising, PR, and communications people have such substance-abuse problems: Their basic job is to fudge what they know is right, to create little disharmonies for their pittance, and most of them are intelligent enough to know that something feels quite wrong.

    Here’s where the cheerleader analogy comes into play again, on that metaphor we’ve been rehashing lately. What the media cheerleaders on the sidelines forget is that they are not the action, nor are the paying spectators in the stands the action–it’s the best team members in motion on the field of real players–the risk-takers, the ones who carry the ball and take the hits–and that team can always find new cheerleaders with more upbeat cheers and new spectators who are more true to the idea of making sure nobody in any way involved in the game is left behind.

    The game is now; suit up, you’re starting. Things are happening fast, and the game changes constantly. By the time the cheerleaders solicit and collate 10,000 little plays 5 days from now, the field will have changed a number of times over. Do they think we aren’t playing now, and that we’ve run through the playbook and are waiting for the cheerleaders to send in another killer game tactic? Do they think that the play to end all plays is going to be disgorged September 6th, for a $1,000 prize? It’s time to focus back down on the field, where there are vigorous executions going on.

    Now, having worked through this metaphor a bit more, I see one flaw: It’s couched in the competitive parlance of the cheerleaders, which is the next phase. The first phase in what we are doing now is in fact teamwork, but it is creative, not competitive. We have had a dearth of creativity here in NEO since it last blossomed in the late ’40s, the ’50s, and the ’60s. And we must emphasize the fact that creativity is not limited to the world of arts, or crafts–some people are just so literal. Rockefeller and Carnegie were creative in an extreme way–they used what they had at hand and listened to what the world said it needed.

    I guess questions I’m going to be asking myself are much as they have been–how does this create something that furthers everyone’s interests, how does this create an economy of energy and build upon prior expenditures of energy, and how does this pool the energy so we can properly put it in motion it again?

    Thanks for listening.


    1 Sep 08 at 4:37 PM

  2. You asked me a minute ago what I thought about your post. Here’s a bit more–

    Good work–made me think a little, refocus on what we do, and how much and how little we can look to others, as in the election–the payoff is in the dialogue among all of us, starting now and going on right through the election without pause, without end–the election is only a small part of things, and not an end-all and be-all as some would have us think–as Obama pointed out, it’s not about him–he is one of the facilitators, and he seems to be good at it–could this be the first presidency of the networked nation, the beginning of shared governance, true democracy as has never before been possible?

    This is a good comment.

    I think I’ll go there.


    1 Sep 08 at 6:08 PM

  3. If you would like to hear from a GenX’er, I think your generation definately stirred the pot. I’m not sure I appreciate the results. I was born in ’69. I actually had to have people tell me that everyone in your era was not a hippie. In fact the vast majority of the people weren’t. What was with all the hair? Why was everyone so “dirty” back then…UGH.

    A lot of my relatives that were alive in ’68 blame the students for Kent State. And these are blue collar democrats, union labor.

    I believe a lot of the political views are simple and socialistic. I’m not sure why there is all the anger. You all want change and the only things I see that came from your generation are a deterioration of morals, drugs, divorce, broken families, greed, scandal and a lot of whinning. Come on you’ve been 18 since 68 you’ve had 40 years to make your mark. The only true changes in this country came from the square’s, geeks who brought us into the technical age.

    I do agree, voting is the main point here. People need to educate themselves and vote. Not to be swayed by the propaganda the media puts out. Especially as slanted as today’s media is.

    Just some thoughts from a person from a different generation.


    13 Sep 08 at 8:24 AM

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