Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Monday, May 1, 2017

social conscience

 We are taught since birth that life isn't just about us. Isn't that the truth of it ? Well, maybe not so much anymore, in these modern times that isn't as prevalent as it used to be. My own generation was labeled the " me " generation at one time. The moniker " baby boomers " was adopted instead by sociologists. We certainly were raised in a prosperous time in America. Norman Rockwell expressed it best with his paintings and illustrations. Our parents were labeled the greatest generation and I would have to agree with that assessment. Their greatness stemmed from their intestinal fortitude and resolute belief in America. They were folks that got the job done, no nonsense about it ! They knew what life was all about and it wasn't their little world. No, they made sacrifices for the betterment of all mankind. They didn't just talk about it, they did it. We " baby boomers " enjoyed the benefits they provided for us. It is unfortunate that a good portion of us, the boomers, ignored some lessons altogether. Our path was made a little too easy for us. The big division occurred over the Vietnam conflict. There were those that went and fought, bound by honor and duty and those that protested ! That is the big division, the big difference in the greatest generation and the boomers. But why did this division occur ? It had taken place, on a smaller scale, during the Korean conflict. That war lasted from 1950 to 1953 starting just five years after WW2. The reasons for fighting in Korea weren't as clear cut as all the previous wars the United States had fought. The America tradition was to fight to defeat the enemy completely ! The object being the destruction of that enemy. Korea was called a police action in the beginning. Americans didn't think of themselves as policemen to the world. Then Vietnam came along and the division widened. War was something that the older Americans believed needed to be fought, to the total destruction of the enemy, and this new generation was just anti-war altogether. At least a significant portion of that generation, my generation, came to believe so. That is why the protesting and dissention grew so strong. All of that continues to this day.
  What we are really talking about is the social conscious. That is what I think anyway. I was there for Vietnam and the associated unrest. Too young to be drafted into service during the height of the action yet I served at the very end and so have some personal insight. I served in the Navy and so wasn't crawling around those jungles and rice paddies. I will not attempt to explain the emotions one must feel from that experience. I do know first hand how wide the divide became between those that felt obligated to serve and those that refused. I was on the side that felt an obligation to my country. It wasn't an obligation I was rushing to fulfill but one I accepted. I did volunteer for the Navy. I admit I gave it some thought, this notion that I could go to war and die in that war. But I was young and still felt invulnerable, that stuff always happens to somebody else. The thing was that feeling of obligation to the country. Is that patriotism ? A love of country ? I think it is more of a sense of values. The things myself and like minded individuals value as important in life. I believe I would hold these same values no matter where I lived. A sense of the greater good you might call it. It isn't always about what I want, but about what needs to be done. And it isn't about sacrifice. Sacrifice is something given with an expectation of a return. It was my hope that I didn't have to pay the ultimate price same as every other person. No one wants to die in a war. I didn't go to sacrifice myself ! I went solely because I felt an obligation to do so. Conscience it is called. I could not in good conscience just turn my back on that.
  When I began this little essay I said we are all taught that life isn't just about us. We are taught about the greater good. I have serious doubts that lesson is being stressed as much as it used to be. I understand that has been said about each generation. I am a member of the " me " generation after all. I raised two millennials and they are in their forties now. Now it is the " Y " generation that is preparing to take the stage. What lessons are they being taught as a matter of social conscious ? From my perspective I see a lot of indecision, doubt and confusion. I believe some of that stems from a lack of social conscious. The focus is on individual feelings, even when those feelings are at odds with the society in general. This is being confused with the idea of " acceptance. " Acceptance does not mean accepting whatever comes down the pike. Then I hear the cries don't judge. Judgement is not the same thing as condemnation ! Those terms appear to be getting confused. I may judge in the positive or the negative. A judgement is nothing more than a reasoned choice. Bottom line is, you have to choose !  Sometimes you just have to choose what is best for everyone no matter how you feel about it personally. Collectively we all form the social conscience. What is conscience ? Conscience is that inner voice, the one only we can hear, that tells us right from wrong. It is our voice, our thoughts and our judgements. Life isn't all about us though so there are times when we must rely upon that social conscience to act as a guide. Something bigger than ourselves. It may be our town, our state, our country or something more.