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GUEST COLUMN: Baby boomers have led a charmed existence

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Thea deGroot

I am a member of the favoured generation. As a baby boomer, the road was paved for us in education, jobs, healthcare, modern conveniences, travel and easy information access just for showing up in 1948.

Born after World War II, my generation made their entry into a time of hopefulness. There were a lot of us, giving us clout with governments, markets and in making our way in the world.

Thea deGroot
Thea deGroot

For the second half of my life, the oppressiveness and wiliness of the marketplace became evident: corporations that were once respected because they honoured and respected their employees and consumers lost their gloss.

The incompetence and misbehaviour of some governments, institutions and agencies, along with an emphasis on personal rights, led us to believe the individual knew best and you and I could do what we wanted, when we wanted, and had the right to do what we wanted with whatever was ours.

We were glad to believe that all taxes were a grab; experts were not to be trusted; cynicism ruled.

So it was no surprise that the Ontario government backed off a plan to charge me more for my medication so that others, who had less than I, would be able to afford theirs. A decision based on the complaints heard loud and clear from my cohorts. This saddened me.

We often live in segregated communities. We spend most of our time with others just like us in class, age, colour of skin, faith commitment and view of life. As we age, our worlds become even smaller and our own particular lives seem to matter more. It becomes easier to worry about our own last years than those that lie ahead of others, like the youth in our communities.

My plea is that we, who have often had the best of life’s opportunities, stop and think about the world we are in the process of leaving behind. Why should our votes count this much just because there are a lot of us and we vote?

We have much to be proud of in what has changed, such as the rights of women, but we also have a lot of unfinished work – equal pay for equal work, accessible daycare, better homecare, crumbling infrastructure, environmental messes, a widening societal gap, world poverty and hunger.

What tools are we leaving to the generations that follow? Have we nurtured the selfishness gene so much that we are more concerned about what’s in our own pocket than whether our aging neighbour can afford her needed medication?

As our community debates what to do about SCITS, perhaps this is the time to create a centre that brings all people together across class, age, colour of skin and all the other small differences between us.

Maybe Sarnia’s celebration of Canada’s birthday should focus on that wonderful building to rebuild community by finding new and imaginative ways to bring us together.

Thea deGroot is a local citizen who still carries with her the hopefulness she was born into

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