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David Holmgren - The Apology from baby boomers to the handicapped generations  RSS feed

 
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David Holmgren's Apology on behalf of baby boomers

An eloquent, rational and heartfelt apology from the irreproachable David Holmgren - there's no one else I'd rather have unpack it all.



I do find it hard to forgive the boomers though, the Limits to Growth report was pretty clear.

I don't think the history books of the future will be kind to them.


"But most of us used our houses as ATMs for new forms of consumption that were unimaginable to our parents, from holidays around the world to endless renovations and a constant flow of updated digital gadgets and virtual diversions."

 
pollinator
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I wonder what the solution is for improving what we have inherited, both at a personal level and at a global/national level.
 
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I'll probably read David's message, eventually.

I'm just so tired of generational stereotypes.

I was born in 1950 and did not live the indulgent lifestyle commonly attributed to 'my generation' and neither did many of my peers.

I moved to the woods at 22 and have not deviated very much from my standards at the time.

There is probably plenty of blame to go around  from any one generation to the next but I don't think it's very productive?
 
Jondo Almondo
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Nothing against individuals, especially to anyone here @ permies.
The solution also goes without saying on this site.

But its important to acknowledge just how far a single generation went - 50% of the global oil supplies eaten up in a lifetime. And how we should never hold that lifestyle up as something to strive for, as most of the developing world does.

As a whole, the boomers are not adept at acknowledging their privilege and their shortcomings.
'Boomers screwing future generations knowingly' has been increasingly championed by boomer journalists and intellectuals, such as Holmgren.
Its good to have allies from that group and to know its not just the same old instinctive generational warfare that has always been.
 
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Apparently there are 2 waves of Boomers; 1st wave, and the 2nd.

My elder sibling is part of the 1st, and I part of the 2nd.  True to form my brother did in fact the whole best education, best job with retirement, investment portfolio, and the consumer thing.  
I on the other hand, being at the end of the Boomers, got their scraps, with no chance at any form or type of security whatsoever.  I can't be a Unicorn in this historical situation, there are many just like myself.  I do remember kicking the "mainstream system" all the way, as I still do.  Seen some things I thought I would never see in my lifetime.  

I do believe that we End Boomers did pave part of the way for a return to the Land, for inventiveness and ingenuity, for finding ways to get by without the system, for circumventing it.  After all, are many of the Founding Permaculturists not Boomers?!  Bill Mollison, Geoff Lawton, even Paul Wheaton himself?!  As with anything, using a WIDE BRUSH to generalize eliminates many, many allies to a cause, and we need as many allies as possible, to tip the scale, yes?

I dare say, that today's techno gadgets may be seen as the cause of pollution, and Corporations global interference/economic chaos in decades to come.  
I agree, all this finger pointing, and blame game is counter productive.  Maybe this is the decisive era where the true definition of Ethical living and Community will come to light, regardless of which generation we hale from.

Cheers!  K
 
pollinator
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That generation was the first in recent decades to have a fairly pampered life. Im not talking about money and economy. Their parents, grandparents, great grand parents experienced ww1, ww2, and vietnam. The boomers missed all that. They and future generations were not hardened by simply surviving. After these wars it was a volunteer army and the population didnt have to participate , nor did they have to do without because of the needs of the army (rationing).


Its like the war is over, let's party. The party hasn't stopped.

 
pollinator
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I am 30, a Millennial. The only time I get drawn into the generational blame game is when Boomers start the whole “Millennials are screen-addicted perpetually adolescent snowflakes who don’t know the meaning of hard work” schtick, at which point I will often be tempted to start in on a list much like Holmgren’s (or, you know, shove their heads into my bench vice and crank down).

I honestly think a lot of the shade thrown on Boomers is a reaction to the condescending, smug, myopic cultural narrative of older generations about Millenials and even younger generations. I think both narratives are counterproductive.

I also think that many of the things that Boomers I know make fun of Millenials for doing (sharing housing with family, forgoing personal automotives, cobbling together non-traditional work, postponing marriage and children) actually make a lot of sense in current economic and ecological times, and should be encouraged, not ridiculed.
 
Judith Browning
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I think labels and stereotypes are destructive to constructive dialog.

I read this thread and I immediately get my hackles up...I feel I have to defend myself rather than look for solutions.

I think using our particular relationships with folks in our immediate world as examples to use to label and judge a whole group of people is destructive rather than productive.

Maybe we can try to look at people as individuals and lighten up on the stereotyping?

There is no need for a generational war...you know, like John Lennon said "War is Over (if you want it)".

I see groups like the Sunrise Movement and feel full of hope...there are young who are jumping in and taking action.  This is great constructive activism!

Wayne, the birth years defining the 'boomer' generation are from 1946 -1963...those boys born early were most certainly in a war and were part of the draft.  Thousands killed for no reason.  I don't feel like they were pampered in any way...at least that was not my feeling at the time nor now.   My peers were dying at a horrible rate....maybe those who got out for bone spurs were the pampered ones?  Those not old enough for the draft were still growing up with Vietnam on the news every night. The war protests and civil rights marches during those times were multi generational.  Those times led to a president who installed solar panels on the roof of the whitehouse and many regulations that would have kept in check the climate crisis we have now.

wayne wrote:That generation was the first in recent decades to have a fairly pampered life. Im not talking about money and economy. Their parents, grandparents, great grand parents experienced ww1, ww2, and vietnam. The boomers missed all that. They and future generations were not hardened by simply surviving. After these wars it was a volunteer army and the population didnt have to participate , nor did they have to do without because of the needs of the army (rationing).  





 
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I dislike generational politics. It's a distraction that can be used to make us look one way while we're corncobbed from another direction.

That said, I find it hard to disagree with much that he says in his apology. He frames a stream of illogical decisions that, in the abstract, seem completely undefensible. I agree that history will not likely treat some of these issues kindly.

I also agree that there are a number of boomers who have made enormous impacts on destructive practices in the face of institutionalised intransigence and inertia; any movement towards sustainability today is proof of it, as are the bones of any idea towards resilience, as they build on work done in those areas, before the fields of study had names of their own, done by the scientists and researchers of the day, who were boomers.

Blame it on the political climate, though, but all apologies do for me is make me impatient and frustrated, and on bad days, furious at the lack of progress.

We have been seeing the gradual downgrading of the middle class as six companies and maybe a double handful of families accumulate vast fortunes.

We're locked into debt slavery as bad as it's legally allowed to be these days, and many of us have no way out.

For many of us, our expensive specialist training was just another weight around our necks, and unless we've found sales jobs or lucked out spectacularly, or gotten a lot of help, getting married and having children is locked away behind financial barriers, never mind property ownership, and good luck with that dream recreational property we were all raised to expect. No fucking cottage for us, no sir.

Oh, and now the boomers all want to retire to the country, those that decide to give up their jobs at all so that the younger generation can work something other than two or three part-time jobs. What will that do for the ability of the younger generations to get land and live productive, permaculturally-aligned lives? No more farms, though, because boomers want condo-townhouses on lakefront communities with all the amenities. Up goes the price per acre, way past the point of affordability.

I think, all in all, David Holmgren got it down pretty well. I am glad somebody's thinking clearly on the matter. I just wish that more could be done to help us get out of it.

-CK
 
wayne fajkus
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Thanks for pointing that out Judith.

I was doing a lousy attempt at trying to correlate the difference between war time suffering from those that havent experienced it. I had the generation wrong. Those that havent experienced it might be considered pampered by those that have. I hope that makes sense. I am not a proponent of war and suffering, but i wonder if these current decades of war that dont effect you (fought by volunteer army with no rationing by civilians) has an influence. They are not hardened by the suffering.  Would a hardened person be looking for an apology from an entire generation? Would a hardened person be looking for an apology by the the relatives of a previous generation? Its like our core needs to gripe about something. The better our life is, the deeper we have to look for something to gripe about.

 
pollinator
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I agree with the subjects David Holmgren is touching on. What doesn't sit right with me at all though is that he says "we apologize, we are truly sorry, etc," but who is this we he is talking about. That we doesn't exist. He is apologizing for features, in name of his generation, but i seriously do not believe the people in his generation agree with most points he is bringing up. Like the war on drugs, most boomers completely agree with that, it's only recently people have come around on cannabis, and the majority being the younger generations, not the boomers.. And then there are the other drugs. USA is going through a truly gruesome opiod epidemic, the only country in the world which legalized heroine is Portugal, and it has seen a massive decline in addiction since. This is because the state didn't throw people in jail and when they od-d they had the best modern treatments ready to offer, addicts got less rebellious. But people do not even know about this, not even in Europe. The first and only legalization program was a huge success, you'd hope to read it in all newspapers. Finally a good thing happened in a strange faraway country, but no...


 
Jondo Almondo
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For me, the multi-decade lesson is that it's very hard to accept any decline whatsoever in quality of life or energy availability - even when the stability of the whole system is at stake.

Given the energy descent scenario that the young and future generations will have to contend with, the generational angst will get worse before it gets better.

I think continually apologizing to the young will help them to understand the reality they've inherited and the stakes.
It shouldn't be up to them to inherit a dying polluted planet with high-mindedness, grace and forgiveness.
Its reasonable for them to be confused, angry and unable to get past 'how could you?'
 
Judith Browning
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Its reasonable for them to be confused, angry and unable to get past 'how could you?'



Reasonable for a short period of time...not helpful to wallow in it.  I always hated the phrase 'get over it' but that's what comes to mind here.  I don't think there's much time for self pity.

Being angry at the previous generation can be great for motivation to action......and that is what is needed now, not later.  

I think it's helpful to identify events in history that shape our world and try to do better.  David's apology explains quite well the results of the actions of many during that time but does not speak for all of us from that era, there were plenty of things from that period of time I reacted to and tried to do better, or at least my version of 'better'.

I don't feel I need to apologize for myself nor for many of my peers who have been fighting this 'climate' battle for decades....let's get on with it and try to fix things.

My carbon footprint has been extremely low for the past fifty years...I'm 68.
My parents who were the 'war' generation most definitely jumped into 'chemicals are better for the future' mindset being promoted during ww2.

This gives me hope...these children are angry AND  calling out their governments for inaction  Skipping School Around The World To Push For Action On Climate Change


 
Hugo Morvan
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Judith i am from Netherlands, great to see kids wanting to do something. Here they were spurred on by their teachers to go and demonstrate for the climate in the capital The Hague. Great! 10.000/ 15.000 kids. After they went en masse to Burger King and McDonalds, to celebrate how well they had done for the environment.
All the attention is on climate change, which is not correct. All the money is going into investing in CO2 decreasing measures. The economic reality is that if the whole of Europe uses less oil and gas the prices will drop, which will lead to more consumption elsewhere.
At the world economic forum in Davos the rich came together to talk about climate change, they came in a record number of private jets...
No one talks about build forests/food forests in politics,but  that really tips the balance and takes care of the other problems we have as well.
Erosion, major die back and mass extinctions, food desserts, people accumulating in dense cities, desertification, attrecting rain, no future in the countryside for kids etc, etc.
 
Judith Browning
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Hugo Morvan wrote:Judith i am from Netherlands, great to see kids wanting to do something. Here they were spurred on by their teachers to go and demonstrate for the climate in the capital The Hague. Great! 10.000/ 15.000 kids. After they went en masse to Burger King and McDonalds, to celebrate how well they had done for the environment.
All the attention is on climate change, which is not correct. All the money is going into investing in CO2 decreasing measures. The economic reality is that if the whole of Europe uses less oil and gas the prices will drop, which will lead to more consumption elsewhere.
At the world economic forum in Davos the rich came together to talk about climate change, they came in a record number of private jets...
No one talks about build forests/food forests in politics,but  that really tips the balance and takes care of the other problems we have as well.
Erosion, major die back and mass extinctions, food desserts, people accumulating in dense cities, desertification, attrecting rain, no future in the countryside for kids etc, etc.



Yes, I see the irony and also that conflict and perceived hypocrisy have always been there in any important action for change....it's a start though and gives those of us who might know a better way an opening   We can criticize the movement or we can join in as mentors....lots of possibilities here.

I'm a fan of Howard Zinn who says real change has always come from the bottom up....never a government.  I think we've all found that waiting on political parties to come to any kind of 'solution' is futile.  
 
Chris Kott
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I don't think that's an accurate assessment. You have to make government do things.

A participatory democracy only works if we participate; we have to do things to make them happen, and the least of these are voting. Right above that is engaging intellectually, rather than emotionally, with the subject matter being decided, which is made difficult by every special interests' spin doctors.

What's the average voter participation rate where you are? Because I know it's lower here than it should be for the number of people I hear complaining about the outcome.

I think your reaction, Judith, will be by far the most common, with many being less sincere about it than you are.

We are waking from the whole bread and circuses rope-a-dope, and as with all such shifts, some started a decade or two earlier, and some have been avoiding the whole mess since it started.

Systemic change will occur either because the existing system fails or because it has been changed from within.  If it fails, people die. Maybe lots of people, and maybe worse than that.

I think that's something worth working to avoid, eh?

-CK
 
Judith Browning
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Chris Kott wrote:I don't think that's an accurate assessment. You have to make government do things.

A participatory democracy only works if we participate; we have to do things to make them happen, and the least of these are voting. Right above that is engaging intellectually, rather than emotionally, with the subject matter being decided, which is made difficult by every special interests' spin doctors.

What's the average voter participation rate where you are? Because I know it's lower here than it should be for the number of people I hear complaining about the outcome.

I think your reaction, Judith, will be by far the most common, with many being less sincere about it than you are.

We are waking from the whole bread and circuses rope-a-dope, and as with all such shifts, some started a decade or two earlier, and some have been avoiding the whole mess since it started.

Systemic change will occur either because the existing system fails or because it has been changed from within.  If it fails, people die. Maybe lots of people, and maybe worse than that.

I think that's something worth working to avoid, eh?

-CK



As always, Chris, I respect your well thought out and reasoned views.

I should have tried to find the Zinn quote I was referring to.

"If there's going to be change, real change, it will have to work its way from the bottom up, from the people themselves. That's how change happens."  



I think his intent here was to say don't wait for the government to fix things on their own. Voting is certainly an important part of 'forcing' the government to do things in our best interest but not the only way.

While I'm at it...

“TO BE HOPEFUL in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
―  Howard Zinn



This is pretty much where I'm at...might be too optimistic for some (or 'emotional' )

I'm not sure what percentage of voters turned out here in my state.  I suspect many more than usual because so many of us were there to vote against the opposite party's candidate.     I've voted every election since Nixon...was not going to let that happen again.


 
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I love the apology, but I also love all of the varied responses. This is my favorite quote from Holmgren's letter:

After having played with the privilege of free tertiary education, most of us fell for the propaganda and sent our children off to accumulate debts and doubtful benefits in the corporatised businesses that universities became. We convinced our children they needed more specialised knowledge poured down their throats rather than using their best years to build the skills and resilience for the challenges our generation was bequeathing to them. For this we must be truly sorry. - David Holmgren



I am a millenial (on the older side) but I cannot identify with any of the typical "characteristics" of millienials, so I sympathize with you, Judith. But I did grow up when there was an enormous pressure to go to University and specialize in something that made money. I have many peers who unfortunately are still deeply in debt from that push to conform. Through a series of fortunate/unfortunate events in my own life, I never signed up for the high-debt University education and ended up at community college. So I lucked out, and am daily grateful for that. At the time, though, I remember feeling like such a failure that I wasn't being brilliantly educated by a top-tier University.

Anyway, my point is that although my generation inherited these problems, it is really what we MAKE of them that matters. We know the predicament that we are in, so what are we going to do now? I try to shy away from focusing too much on world events, politics, etc. It makes me too angry and frustrated. Instead, I like to focus on my own life, my friends around me, my family, and try my best to cultivate a beautiful life that involves being frugal and considerate for the earth, plants, and animals. I am NOT perfect, but it feels easy to handle all of the stuff in my life, instead of trying to solve EVERYTHING like world hunger, poverty, etc. If I can make a difference there then I've won the battle and hopefully it contributes to winning the war. Perhaps you hear this as "sticking my head in the sand", but I see it differently.

Also, I love to use Dr. Joe Dispenza's meditations and books to help me mentally/spiritually, he is AMAZING.

And just in case you have forgotten:
inspiring.jpg
[Thumbnail for inspiring.jpg]
 
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