Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Memo to old white dudes

Please stop whining!

Hey, you've accomplished a lot. Provided for your family, made sure the kids got an education, paid your taxes, kept your nose clean, and socked away enough for a decent retirement.

You were the guys everyone depended on to get it done, without fussing and without expecting anyone to throw you an appreciation dinner.

But I am tired of hearing you growling that we ought to cut social programs for single moms, kids living in crime-ridden neighbourhoods, jobless teens, impoverished seniors, newly arrived refugees, and others who are struggling to make a life in difficult circumstances.

Please stop sending me those vitriolic eMail messages that continuously circulate around the internet, usually ending with "If you don't pass this on, you are part of the problem."

Please stop saying, "If we could make it, why can't they," as though 2012 is like 1972.

I happen to know, because I am one of you, that our generation enjoyed the most amazing run of good luck ever seen in modern times.

Most of us grew up with two parents, and our moms were homemakers. Our streets and playgrounds were safe. In high school, we were not surrounded by drugs, gangs, and weapons.

We could find a permanent job and earn a decent living with a high school diploma.

We were provided with access to affordable higher education. Upon graduation, most of us could choose from several jobs.

Our working years coincided with a period of enormous economic growth and prosperity. There were no wars, so our careers were not interrupted by military service, or death. It was also a period of hitherto unknown mobility, so we could live and work wherever we wanted.

We lived in a stable, relatively classless, democratic country, filled with widespread optimism about its own future.  Our healthcare system ensured that we would never go bankrupt due to illness or accident. If we were smart and worked hard, the opportunities were almost limitless.

Hell, who couldn't make it in that environment? As someone said to me recently, "We won the lottery!"

So, you guys need to lighten up because, frankly, you're coming across as a bunch of crybabies.

Canadians like to think of themselves as the good guys, fair-minded, civilized, kind. But this meanness of spirit has taken root, and seems to be thriving.

In most societies, elders are expected to be good stewards, ensuring that important cultural values are passed on to future generations. Our dialogue seems mostly about paying minimal taxes while making others pay for their mistakes.

Look, I know all old white men don't think this way. I also know there are no silver bullets that will solve all the problems of 21st century society, and that many folks bear much of the responsibility for their predicaments. Dropping out of school, getting pregnant too young, failing to save enough for retirement are all dumb moves.

But letting those lives continue to spiral down without offering a hand up will come back to bite us in the longer run with more crime, more jails, more police, higher unemployment levels, more homeless people and panhandlers on our streets, more drugs in our schoolyards, and general erosion of our quality of life.

So, whether you're doing it for humanitarian reasons, or to ensure a decent future for your grandchildren, you need to be part of the solution.


  1. Well, it isn't just the proverbial OWM's, I'm sad to say. There a too many OWW's out there too. Everyone is fearful and there isn't a guidebook for us or appear to be a leader with vision.

  2. Geez Geezer!
    Who peed on your bran flakes today. Dont count out the ALMOST OWM's either. We seem to be regressing in societal values in ALL age groups, and I'm afraid that, as usual, it always gets worse before it gets better.
    Great Rant!!