Danny’s Birthday

Pacific Coast Highway

It was our son Danny’s birthday yesterday. He celebrated it mostly in his tiny LA apartment with his two sequestered roommates eating pizza we sent him from Zuppardi’s, a highly regarded West Haven pizza joint. I caught up with him as he was taking a solo ride on the Pacific Coast Highway, just to get a break. He, no doubt, caught up with friends from all over who sent birthday wishes through social media and texts.

I’ve been thinking about this generation who opened their eyes to this millennium with 9/11 and the continuing threat of terrorism over their heads. Now, their young adulthood is confronted by the ravages of this pandemic.

Along the way, their world has been constantly interrupted by the deaths of children and others from horrific gun violence and the existential threat of this planet on its last legs. Life expectancy for them is down despite medical advances in diseases like cancer.

It’s not that Boomers had it easy, living through the world-changing and shattering assassinations of three of our beloved idols and the Vietnam War.

But, the perpetual and catastrophic bombardment and disappointments that Millennials experience is beyond the pale.

We believed we could change the world. This group feels they have no chance. We had hope; they have despair.

COVID-19’s horrible death count — and the concomitant universal fear — is an overwhelming tragedy. The numbers, displayed everywhere, follow us wherever we go. (These days that means cable TV and the internet.)

The count not seen, however, is the increasing rate of helplessness among those who will follow in our footsteps, as they are furloughed, unemployed and seeing an incompetent political system stumbling every step of the way. These young people have dealt with disappointment their entire lives. Many of them are reeling over the defeat of Bernie Sanders, who reflected their fading hope.

What can I say to my son to give him comfort without sounding disingenuous, trite and platitudinal? After all, no one has been through anything like this before and we don’t know the future.

Maybe that’s part of the answer.

Because we don’t know the future, we certainly shouldn’t conclude that it will be all bleak. In fact, our gift and our heritage to the younger generation IS hope. Our years give us the advantage of experience. Humans are resilient. As Dr. Ian Malcom prophetically said in Jurassic Park, “Life will find a way.” In my heart of hearts, I believe — I am convinced — we will come out of this, not unscathed, but not beaten. Things may be forever changed, but not necessarily for the worse and I hope for the better.

We may have a deeper appreciation of life. We may be kinder. Little things may not bother us so much. We’ll take pride in our resilience. Our country may wake up to the absolute need of universal health care. Our true values may guide us and not be in the background so much. We’ll appreciate our fellow humans more. We’ll get joy out of things far less materialistic.

We will be shown the way by artists, poets, writers and children. Political leaders will follow.

I’m reminded of the closing lyric to the Grateful Dead’s one hit, Touch of Grey:

We will get by
We will survive

-0-

Listen to Touch of Grey, Grateful Dead (Orchard Park, NY 7/4/89)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZmR-T0jilA

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Entrepreneur, Founder of CRN International and Connecticut Radio Network, Writer, Broadcaster.

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Barry Berman

Barry Berman

Entrepreneur, Founder of CRN International and Connecticut Radio Network, Writer, Broadcaster.

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