Tree of Life


Tree of Life does a good job of filming the dreamlike experience of childhood. It is set in the fifties, but I experienced the world that way, in clips and images, in the sixties. I remember very clearly the day JFK was killed. We prayed and saluted the flag in school. The teachers and upperclassmen had dark suits with white shirts and red ties. It was not entirely clear to me who Kennedy had been, or what Washington, DC was.

The adults were discussing Presidents a great deal at that time. I did not know this word and thought they must be planning some large, municipal Christmas present. I found this strange because there had not been such a present before. Yet the next year, I had things in much sharper focus: Johnson, Goldwater, “escalation;” Congo, Dominican Repbublic, Viet Nam.


Why is it that those born between 1946 and 1964 are considered egotistical? When did the U.S. economy really start to weaken? I ask because I want to know who is responsible for insisting that people my age are egotistical and that we benefited from a strong economy. I have been hearing this since the above referenced era and I would be interested in an explanation.

The point made to me during the Johnson administration was we had not experienced the Depression, we had not experienced the War, and we did not know History. My thoughts then were that (a) there was another war on, with draft counseling at my school and memorial announcements for those who shipped out and did not come back; and (b) Ruby Bridges might not have experienced the Depression or the War, yet she was not in a bed of roses.

What I do not understand now is why people imagine you can have been born in the 60s and also created them. In fact the creators of the counterculture, which I hardly considered “egotistical” and to which I was not opposed, were older. Most were born before the 1939-1945 war and their predecessors, before the Depression.


I stand by those points and could expand upon them, but what I do not understand are certain myths about the economy. From the early seventies on I remember high inflation, high interest rates, shrinking opportunities and growing unemployment. The cost of living seemed to go up sharply again in the mid eighties — it felt like shifting into another gear. It really seems to me that the beneficiaries of the post war economic boom were not those born during it but those who were in their twenties and thirties during it.

Yet people in my age group are considered privileged and wasteful (and I do emphasize that I was in elementary school when I was first taught this was the case); we are also credited with revolutionary energies and creativity that were not ours. I suspect that there are dark motives behind the dissemination of these myths. I would like to know how they were formed and propagated, and why.


3 thoughts on “Tree of Life

  1. I cut this summary from the end of the post because it seemed redundant:

    I insist that:

    1. The counterculture was created by people born during the Depression and the 1939-1945 war, not afterwards. It was not about them not appreciating what those who were adults during the Depression and the 1939-1945 war had gone through, but about the state.

    2. People reaching majority from about 1971 forward did not benefit from a good economy.

    Why is it so often said that the counterculture was created by those who were in fact small children during it, and that these people went on to become insouciant spendthrifts?

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