Half in jest I have been saying that I'm the greatest generation. The reason I gave was that I did not have the shadows or shackles from the history, while watching the damage and the scars left behind by the horrendous history, first hand. I'm the first who is free from the oppressive and haunting history. I'm free to be proud and to be my own man. Whatever I do is my own responsibility, and no excuses. I have tried very hard, I think.
I still believe I'm the greatest generation. Because the calamities of history brought chaos and, at the same time, mixing and breaking down of the existing feudal structure. As far as I can remember, there was a sense of equality that everybody had a chance to succeed. It, now, seems there are a new feudal system emerging.
This time it is based upon money, connection, influence, and silly hubris. The sense of real equality is earned through a long process of growing up. We don't achieve equality, fairness, and the solid social infrastructure through violent and chaotic events, especially, when the blows are coming from other people.
What is clear from history is that feudal and oligarchical social structure invariably become destructive. The rule by few with money and connections is a tired and failed idea. The unfortunate fact of human nature is that we have a strong tendency toward this ugly and animalistic instinct to grab everything for oneself.
Nevertheless, we have to recognize and acknowledge the parts of our nature that are not very conducive to equality, fairness, and empathy. The irony is that we need those greedy animalistic instincts to have a certain excitement in life.
photo by churchilbo.com
This claim of mine that I'm the greatest generation came into challenge from a person who is more than two decades younger than I. This handsome and smart young man claimed that their generation is struggling through the toughest competition and most of them are doing well with the optimism that it is going to be O.K. So that he claimed he is the greatest generation. Actually, I was very pleased to hear it while insisting I'm still the greatest generation. I was so glad that the next generation is positive and confident with, of course, a certain angst.
While watching a particular TV program, a lot of things came together to realize that the next Korean Americans of each generation are doing well. They are O.K. All along, the evidences were accumulating and sooner rather than later the realization that we are very productive and contributing to the society at large is to come. That particular scene in the TV clicked something vague into the clear realization that each generation of us can claim I'm the greatest generation.
The crucial issue is that for each succeeding generation to be able to claim I'm the greatest generation, the emerging new feudalism based on money, connection, influence, and silly hubris is no help. Absolutely no help. But I'm hopeful that we will find a way to correct the emerging puerile social attitude. So that the tradition of I'm the greatest generation shall be preserved by the next generation.
photo by churchilbo.com