I have always been obsessed with the musical “Hair,” and while I can’t exactly pinpoint why, it is most likely because of the song “Aquarius.” I was born in 1972, and I think I thought that the song lyrics “….this is the dawning of the age of Aquarius” must be about me and my generation (and specifically about me, since I was born on January 23 so that was also my Zodiac sign.) Even though the story of “Hair” was about the Vietnam War, and took place mostly before I was born, I felt part of something important, something powerful, simply by being born during the hippie culture of the 1970s.
But in reality, my generation wasn’t really part of anything too empowering. Maybe it was because we were outside playing with sticks, running around late at night until the street lamps went on. Perhaps it was because we rode around in cars without car seats and played on rusty swing sets, and surviving with just one telephone that was located in the kitchen. But those of us born in the 70s, we just sort of grew up and moved on. Of course there were social, political and economic issues, but it all seemed so removed from us as kids. Those were our parents’ problems. Not ours.
Our generation, whatever we are called (X? Y?), got careers, got married, and had kids. The internet and technological inventions changed how we raised our kids, and social media changed the way we shared our news and thoughts, both personal and political. We all agreed that it’s harder to raise kids now than when we grew up. We all lament that there is more pressure for these kids in every facet of their lives. What, we wondered, would become of this generation of instant gratification, over-helicoptered, under-socialized kids? They are doomed, we thought.
And yet, these past few months have shined a new light on this generation. Suddenly, they have become warriors: for justice and peace and equality. They are using the technology of today, once so feared by people like myself, who longed for days of children playing with sticks, for something very, very good.
This warrior generation is fighting for gun control, and they are not afraid to face their President and say, “What are you doing to help us?” They are helping their teachers try to get the funding their schools so deserve, and are demanding answers from their state legislatures about why they aren’t giving it to them. They have learned about the “me-too” movement, and are educating each other on what society will no longer tolerate amongst the sexes in the workplace. They are wearing their LGBTQ sexuality proudly, instead of hiding it all in the closet, where people from our generation used to have to keep it.
Our children, it seems, are suddenly teaching us more than we are teaching them. They are telling us not to give up when they believe that something needs to be changed. They do not tolerate, nor will they let us tolerate, defeat in the face of adversity. They are organizing protests and rallies, and walking out of schools, not to defy authority, but to educate them.
We will not be doomed when we leave our world to this new generation. We may, in fact, be better off. The best thing that we, as parents, and as a society, can do for them now, is to believe in and support them and their causes. We must never back down from those things that we find corrupt and unjust. We must follow their lead.
These kids are the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. And I, for one, can’t wait to see what they do next.