Print Edition: July 2, 2014
Demographers predict our healthcare facilities will have their hands full. Banks are crunching numbers to figure out how we’ll finance retiring baby boomers. Some of us millennials are looking at our society and economy, fretting about how this will affect us in the future. Yet in doing so we completely disregard the generation before us.
The baby boomers came about when birthrates surged after WWII, and many of our parents tag onto the tail end of that generation. According to Stats Canada, those currently between 45 and 64 made up 42 per cent of the work force in 2011, filling much-needed positions. The concern is that they will be a financial and economic burden to our generation when they get old.
Those speculations may be valid, but perhaps we, gen Y, have a bad attitude about it. Have any of us stepped back from our tunnel-vision worries and thanked baby boomers for the things they have done for us, or admired the different characteristics their generation possesses that we lack?
After the boomers’ parents lived through the Depression, there was a sense of economic liberty where frugality was no longer necessary — but they realized if they wanted to reap the benefits of this economic surge, they would need to work hard to get it, and that’s what they did.
They modeled hard work and how to go after something — this is why many baby boomers have been financially successful, and explains why many are still in the workforce. Not only do they work hard, but I believe many of them enjoy it.
Our generation has not experienced the need to work hard to the extent the boomers did: we have reaped the benefits of their hard work. Let’s face it, millennials, we’ve had it pretty easy. Not many boomers were drinking Starbucks every day and eating out regularly while pursuing an education over work. Nor did they spend hundreds of dollars on bridal showers, bachelorette and lingerie parties, and elaborate weddings. They worked hard so we in our young adult lives wouldn’t have to.
Baby boomers have also lived in this world a lot longer than we have, and have valuable insight on how the world works. They’ve lived both with and without technology, and know what it means to live simply — more than we do today.
I have no problem conversing with friends and acquaintances in my age bracket, but often I find conversing with their parents more substantial. People between 40 and 60 have a different approach to life that is refreshing. They value the things in life that hold weight: quality time, relationships, and hard work. They also understand living life means more than seeking momentary, immediate pleasures. These are things we as a younger generation should learn while we are young.
When we complain there are no jobs out there for us, mope because we lack face-to-face relationships, or find ourselves resenting the generational differences between us and our parents, perhaps we need to change our perspectives. If we too want to be successful in life, maybe we need to take some time to learn from the generation before us.
The boomers are not a burden to society; they have valuable input in our world. It will be our responsibility to care for them when they get old, and there will be a lot of them needing our help. But instead of seeing this as a burden, we need to view it as an opportunity to give back what they gave to us.