Generational labels have been assigned throughout history to the prevailing group of citizens in our society. From the rag tag dirt scratchers of the Depression, through the Baby Boomers and the Yuppies, and continuing on through the Millennium with Gen X, Y, and Zs. There are teenagers and tweeners, golden girls and old farts, and every iteration possible on either end of the spectrum.
I have come to think that my contemporaries might well be labeled the ENOUGH generation. Coming along after the Depression and the Dust Bowl Days, few of us were born into privilege. Most of us were hatched into nests that were not particularly well feathered but there was ENOUGH comfort there for us to be happy.
We didn't enjoy steady diets of egg white omelets, designer coffees or even steak. There was not an over abundance of places to "eat out." We ate a lot of beans, potatoes, cornbread, bologna (baloney), and yes.....Spam. But, there was usually ENOUGH to ensure we didn't go to bed hungry with our stomachs gnawing at our backbones. Our dads worked hard and were proud to do so and we were the beginning of the start of mother's who began to work outside the home.
There were no specialty beers or micro-breweries to tickle our taste buds for a forbidden "taste." We instead made do with labels like Lone Star, Coors, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Schlitz. Our tastes were hardened by the times and who could blame us if some of us never seem to know when ENOUGH is ENOUGH in the alcohol department.
Almost every dad I knew was in constant possession of a cigarette either in between two fingers or dangling from his lip. If it wasn't lit and burning slowly it was part of a group residing in the chest pocket of his shirt or neatly rolled up in the sleeve of a t-shirt. We were all subjected to car rides with wafting cigarette smoke rolling over the back seat in ENOUGH clouds to make today's society shudder in horror. Some of those dads (like mine) paid the price for that but I was lucky and I have not.
Many of us only got department store clothing for special occasions like Christmas. But, we heard the clickety clacking of our mothers' sewing machines well into the night as they transformed a piece of raw material into something cute for us to wear. Boys might very well be decked out in overalls from the Farmer's Co-op or simple jeans and white t-shirts. And to have more than 2 pairs of shoes was a rarity. Nothing fancy........but..........ENOUGH.
We were not continually busy with extracurricular activities but we were engaged ENOUGH that we were usually pretty tired at the end of the day and most of us stayed well out of trouble. We wanted to because we were just as likely to get a talking to from a random stranger as we were our own parents....and one "I'm very disappointed in you" talk was waaaaay more than ENOUGH.
But on those rare occasions when we did step in a fresh one, we were reminded in very short order that our parents had had ENOUGH and we better be getting our ball of yarn back in tidy shape. Because if we didn't, one or both of our parents would rain down destruction on us until we were absolutely positive that we had MORE THAN ENOUGH.
Town was somewhere you went on Saturday and you made a day of it. Because we were not continually running to the store for forgotten items, we were still simple ENOUGH to enjoy going. People watching and the ever hopeful thought that you MIGHT get something in town was more than ENOUGH to keep us excited about going.
I am relatively sure that I was aware that what we had in our lives was ALL there was. I never had the feeling there was anything being help back. It was a day to day existence and probably one that was very difficult for my parents, but I was insulated from the worry of it because to my reckoning...I had ENOUGH...and I was grateful.
Because I had ENOUGH and not exposed to excesses, I still have the ability to get excited about things. At 66 I am not jaded by "stuff" - little gestures mean everything and I am genuinely grateful for even the smallest thing. And for the most part, every day, I am blessed in my life and the people who choose me to be a part of theirs.
Maybe the fact that mine is a generation defined by ENOUGH is a large contributing factor in explaining why, right now in our country some of us, have.had.ENOUGH. We are sick of being lied to, we are weary of the entitled attitudes of some, we are frustrated with the over bearing personalities of people in authority who treat us like we are stupid. And, quite frankly, some of us are getting really tired of being told to hold our tongues because what we say "offends" someone. Someone offends me every day. I get over myself. Everyone........EVERY danged ONE has a right to their opinion and the right to express it if they choose. But if you expect me to listen to your opinion with courtesy and kindness you have to give me the same expectation. You do not have the right to shout over me, block my access to hearing someone speak or in general behave in such a fashion as you have been complaining about yourself.
We are not the sheep you think us to be. Nor are we as dumb and unwashed as you would like to believe. Our experiences have formed the people we are and what we are is the backbone of a great nation. And....we know full well what ENOUGH looks like and we are content with it. What we are not content with is watching our ENOUGH turn into too little while what we have worked our whole lives for is handed to someone unwilling to work for it at all. The silent generation stands and growls its displeasure. You may ignore it, laugh at it and even try to squash it. But what made us content with ENOUGH will also stand us in good stead in taking back what is ours.
While many of you worry that we are so dumb we are sitting here lapping up sound bites and reacting to them let me assure you that for the most part we understand the undercurrent at play. We also recognize sarcasm when we see it and hear it - most of US excel at it as well. Contrary to popular opinion we are not ignorant - most of us are very very smart..........and we are smart ENOUGH to know that WE.HAVE.HAD.ENOUGH. What a pity you can't see it as well.