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  • Writer's pictureKaren L

The Case for Serious Change

"...both principles and an insistence on engaging with a world that often doesn’t have space for them." Quinta Jurecic, Atlantic Magazine, 2/9/20

I read this quote in an article from Atlantic Magazine. The article focused on not losing hope or faith in our country, democracy, voters, etc. after the Senate acquittal of that man in the White House. The article did not add anything new, but the above quote popped out for me. And I thought, Bernie Sanders. That's the man who has principles and persists in a country that rejects his so-called Socialism. His brand of socialism does not scare me. With the exception of the extremely wealthy, there is not that much to lose for the balance of Americans. We will pay more taxes but get more in return. I already pay for my Medicare and extra costs that my supposedly good supplementary plan does not cover. I have very little coverage for dental care. No more acupuncture or psychotherapy, unless I pay out-of-pocket. Typical working people have high deductibles and skip going to the doctor for preventative carel

If one thinks of most Americans, they are worse off than me and my friends and relatives. All one has to do is walk into a Target, Giant Supermarket, or Walmart to observe who lives in our country--hard working, multi-ethnic/racial people, attempting to remain healthy, raising families, and hoping for the best. They are not the fancy schmancy elite. Most Americans are not the shoppers at Nordstrom or Whole Foods. I agree I am priviliged. I worked hard, as did my parents and grandparents, to achieve my economic level. I am not rich either, but I am probably a fading socioeconomic category.

It is time for the Baby Boomers to rise up again to protest what most people tolerate in our country. The majority of Americans frequently face expensive medical care, balancing budgets, and sacrificing summer vacations and other luxuries. They live in suburban/exurban subdivisions, crowded into mediocre townhomes, single family houses, or apartments. Their kids attend public schools and stay at home after school to wait for their parents to arrive from work. Those who are very bright and motivated succeed nonetheless; but many children are not thriving--doing their homework, eating healthy snacks, and going to an extracurricular activity every day of the week. These youngsters buy their snacks at 7-11 or CVS--chips, sweet drinks--and go home to play video games. They seem happy but are embarking on an unhealthy lifestyle. The sensible children go home; some are already on the streets doing who-knows-what. There is so much wrong, it is mind-boggling. What about our less well-off elderly, in sub-standard facilities or at their childrens' homes, mostly forgotten and ignored?

But, Sanders wants to make some radical changes. He will not achieve every goal he strives for, but the ideas will be seriously considered. We have to change, otherwise the problems of today will multiply during the next centuries. Unlike the Baby Boomers, the childrens' children of tomorrow will not know the same pediatrician for 18 years, visit a dentist regularly, get orthodontia, and go on vacations. Life will be different in all respects. But we need a leader with a humane vision, not one who lead people to a dystopian society.

I grew up in a home that modeled itself on the European lifestyle of the 1920's and 1930's. We ate healthy, were encouraged to be in the fresh air, attended camp, learned to swim, as a few examples. Our grandmothers took my siblings and me on outings and exposed us to music, art, and books. I did not live in an extremely stiumulating environment; my parents were too occupied with their wounds from the traumas of World War II. That European way of life has been over for many years. We, Baby Boomers, invented a stimulating lifestyle for our offspring, with varying degrees of protectiveness, indulgence and hyperactive pastimes. It was a post-hippie, natural foods, liberal, self-esteem oriented atmosphere, in which all children would succeed.

Now, several generations later, I am not sure where we landed. I see young parents popping unwashed blueberries in toddler's mouths, while the young ones watch educational videos on their parents' phones. They remain in strollers with pacifiers stuck in their mouths for longer than ever. If anything, the idea that all children will be brilliant has only increased. Kindness has taken a back seat, being best is popular. There are millions of children who do not eat blueberries, but they do watch videos of some sort. They do not get orthodontia at 9 or 10; they thrive or don't in school; they might attend church; and we hope for the best. The better off families have decent medical care, but the poor children go to the ER for a fever. Dentist, glasses? Only if their insurance covers these necessities, or they are fortunate to get medical assistance. Most high schoolers are obsessed with grades, test scores, and taking classes for which they are not cognitively prepared. STEM is in; writing, spelling, speaking, the social sciences are out! Vocational/technological training is still nil. We look down on our electricians, contractors, and plumbers, yet they have made excellent choices for practical and lucrative employment. More kids are going to post secondary educational institutions, which is promising. Their school debts are obscene.

Baby Boomer parents are already dying. Will we leave our grandchildren and great grandchildren a solid foundation or one that is crumbling into dust?

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