Winners and Losers

I’m almost 51, I know, I’m shocked too. The pace of the past, including mine, was much slower, leaving more time to reflect but no real time to appreciate. Things were easier to assume but also easier to judge. Life seemed to have a deeper connection to the previous generations than those of today.

Everything has it’s time, carving out it’s own place in the history books. Only a generation later do we look back and wonder why the change involved so much societal discourse.

Change can be a very difficult task, especially for the older generations. Ideas are vastly foreign and may go against their grain. Sometimes it’s not about a change, sometimes it’s about the struggle. The older generations, those not in the limelight, feel that the struggle they pushed through, overcame, to achieve what they fought so hard for, is cast to the side, as if it doesn’t matter or isn’t important. “It was easier for you because you only had to deal with a smaller community.” Et cetera. It’s as if the past generations’ success negates their struggle.

My mother went to high school in the 50’s, a time long ago and very far forgotten. She once told me that her favorite movie was Rebel Without a Cause. So to better understand her I decided to watch the movie again, but this time as if I were 17 years old. After watching the movie I realized that it was the 1950’s version of my generation’s The Breakfast Club.

My mom, in 1957 was 17. Rebel Without a Cause came out in 1955. Thirty two years apart but not a thirty two years difference.

Social networks in 1957 they were far and few. Tolerance and acceptance, minimal tolerance and absolutely no acceptance of much of the plights of today. Speaking up and speaking out, now there’s a fanciful concept. Civil rights and women’s rights, not much. The battles of yester-year were just as important, just as relevant, just as painful and just as misunderstood as are the battles of today. There just wasn’t any social media to publicize the details.

I appreciate that my example is of a caucasian woman in the 1950’s. But she was just as dedicated to ending racism, poverty and homelessness, and fighting for gay rights, women’s rights, minority rights, religious freedom and freedom from religion, and peace and understanding as those fighting the good fight of today. I won’t even bother to compare the resources or access to them between the two eras.

So to those warriors of today, maybe try having understanding and/or compassion of the warriors of our past. Maybe take into account what they were able to accomplish, because it laid the groundwork and open the door for the battles of today. For they were once considered brazen, rebellious, misguided and a traitor to the status quo. For if you are unable to do that don’t fret, the next generation will do it to you. Maybe then those battles of yester-year can finally be appreciated and celebrated.

Elizabeth Tustison