My gen­er­a­tion

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - OPINION - DEVIN HOUS­TON

We are star­dust

We are golden

And we’ve got to get our­selves Back to the gar­den

— “Woodstock” by Joni Mitchell

In the spring of 1979, my se­nior bi­ol­ogy class took a trip to Horn Is­land, off the coast of Mis­sis­sippi. We spent a week on the de­serted is­land, sleep­ing on the beach in tents that in­vari­ably col­lapsed around us by morn­ing, for­ag­ing for food to sup­ple­ment the few ra­tions we brought along, and do­ing science stuff that bi­ol­ogy ma­jors were sup­posed to do. On the boat ride home, we were ex­hausted, sea­sick, sun­burned and whin­ing for McDon­ald’s ham­burg­ers. Our fac­ulty ad­vi­sor, some 30 years older and wiser than us, stood on the boat’s up­per deck over­look­ing our bedrag­gled bod­ies and stated sar­cas­ti­cally: “Be­hold, the fu­ture of Amer­ica!” I re­mem­ber be­ing slightly of­fended by the re­mark and also scared. Maybe we weren’t pre­pared to run things when our time came.

That me­mory oc­curred to me while watch­ing a doc­u­men­tary on the his­tory of the mag­a­zine, The Rolling Stone. The mag­a­zine was started in 1967 in San Fran­cisco by Jann Wen­ner and Ralph Glea­son, a cou­ple of young ide­al­is­tic col­lege stu­dents who loved rock and roll mu­sic. It quickly be­came a haven for the po­lit­i­cal writ­ings of Hunter S. Thomp­son, Cameron Crowe, and P.J. O’Rourke. Those of us who lived through the tur­bu­lent 60s re­mem­ber the im­ages on tele­vi­sion of dis­grun­tled youth ri­ot­ing, do­ing drugs, and ba­si­cally hor­ri­fy­ing their par­ents. I’m sure those same par­ents felt that there was no way those kids could de­velop into re­spon­si­ble hu­man be­ings, and life as they knew it in the United States was doomed to damna­tion.

Guess what? Fifty years later, that same gen­er­a­tion pro­duced the po­lit­i­cal con­ser­va­tives, pro­gres­sives, doc­tors, lawyers, and en­gi­neers that run the coun­try to­day. They were far from per­fect but at least we are still here. I’m sure many a Baby Boomer who holds a re­spectable po­si­tion in the com­mu­nity, per­haps even a re­li­gious con­ser­va­tive pil­lar of so­ci­ety, still lives in fear of some pic­ture show­ing up of him bathing naked with his co-ed friends at Woodstock. How to ex­plain that to the grand­kids?

I guess the point I’m try­ing to make is that each gen­er­a­tion thinks the next will be the end of hu­man­ity. Maybe we don’t give the young­sters enough credit. Our par­ents thought we were crazy, lazy, and stupid be­cause we didn’t do the things they did. We didn’t work as hard, or sac­ri­fice enough to de­serve a bet­ter life than they had. I think it’s all rel­a­tive.

Some­where along the way to adult­hood the ma­jor­ity of us flip a switch from liv­ing care­free for the mo­ment to be­ing con­sumed with mak­ing enough money to pay the mort­gage and car pay­ment. We tamp down those mem­o­ries of friv­o­lous liv­ing some­where deep in our brain or de­lude our­selves into think­ing we were to­tally dif­fer­ent peo­ple back then. Maybe, if our lives turned out all right, and the el­der years come upon us, we dare take those mem­o­ries out, sa­vor the in­no­cence and ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity that pro­duced them, and smile, just a lit­tle.

Well maybe it is just the time of year

Or maybe it’s the time of man

I don’t know who I am But you know life is for learn­ing …

— Devin Hous­ton is the pres­i­dent/CEO of Hous­ton Enzymes. Send com­ments or ques­tions to devin.hous­ The opin­ions ex­pressed are those of the au­thor.

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