Feb 11, 2008

The Invisible Generation of the 1970’s

Every generation seems to have their moment of impact on society and of fond memories of their high school and college days. My days were the invisible and forgettable seventies. We just came out of the 60's which did not produce the promises hoped for. Instead, we fizzled out of Vietnam, went through Kent State, got burned out with hippies and assassinations and just went through Watergate. The Older generation didn't need another youth culture thing so my generation pretty much quietly took a back seat waiting for the decade to end. We were stuck between the slow sell out of the "love generation" of the 60's and the same generation going for the big money grab of the 80's. It wasn't until the 90's that the US was ready to talk about the youth culture again with the Generation X people. By that time, my generation was raising our families and wondering what happened 20 years before. We weren't Baby Boomers and we weren't Generation Xers. We were the Invisible Generation. The In-between Generation. The Waiting-for-"It"-to-Happen Generation. The "it" was our turn to change the world as a youth group. "It" never showed up.

The Baby Boomers were idealistic coming off the triumphs of WWII. The 60's promised a new world to the generation of the 70's but we didn't realize that the biggest change was going to be green and orange shag carpets. The Generation X people have been a cynical youth from the get go. They never were promised anything but impending Armageddon and broken up families. But the 70's people have continually been waiting...waiting...waiting for that something to show up.

The 70's was intolerable disco music, bell bottom pants, gas lines, inflation, Ronco TV ads, Brady Bunch and olive green carpet. Our Presidents were not Roosevelt and Kennedy Icons. They were Nixon (resigned in disgrace), Ford (unelected and tripping everywhere) and Carter (peanut farmer and goofy).

Although I largely missed the Beatles, I loved them...and I hated them. And I didn't know why. Whenever I heard John Denver sing "Rocky Mountain High" it would cause a deep sense of sorrow and heart sick in me. And I couldn't figure out why. But now I know why.

In the opening of the song, Denver sings

He was born in the summer of his 27th year
Comin' home to a place he'd never been before
He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again
You might say he found a key for every door

This was the promise. To come home. To find the key to every door. To be part of an ideal...a Rocky Mountain High. But they didn't deliver. They had the same fights, same broken dreams, same divorces, same drug problems, same attitudes and answers as everyone else.

And this was the attraction of Jesus. Here was someone who could deliver. Who showed me home. Who truly gave me the key to every door. Here was someone and something worth living for...and dying for. Here, at long last, I found what was promised to me when I was coming of age in the confusion and disillusion of the 1970's. At last I found rest for my troubled soul. And I've never looked back. And I never will.