At the first job I had after college, a collection of employees formed a group we called the Sixty and Five Club. Our common link was that we were all born between 1960 and 1965. I haven’t thought much about the club until now, as I watched one of our own become president-elect.
For me, the election of Barak Obama was historic not because of his race, but because of his age. For the first time, someone my age will be President. Little has been made of this generational shift, but for me it is truly significant and I think bears further reflection.
The Sixty and Five Club are not baby boomers. We fall at the very end of that generation, but before the Gen X’ers. For the most part we were never soldiers, but nor are we slackers. I think we have our own world view, shaped by many events that happened as we came of age.
We are post Kennedy and King. We are the grandchildren of World War II vets, and the first children of Vietnam vets. We learned first hand the difference between a righteous war and one that can beget horrible consequences. We are the first generation of divorced parents, bi-racial parents, and open discussions of drugs. We are the products of women’s lib and new definitions of love and social justice. We did not participate in civil rights marches, but instead were bussed to new schools for federally mandated desegregation.
We watched Nixon resign, Ford forgive, and Carter ask us to turn down the thermostat. We became divided in the 1980’s when we were told that the sacrifice admired in our grandparents had become obsolete and the one who died with the most toys would win.
I believe since then, the Sixty and Five club has yearned for the hope and message of someone like Barak Obama. We’ve had little to bring us together and have never been successful in doing so, even in these latest times of war. We saw the idealism of older generations but never quite knew how to harness it for ourselves.
I believe the world needs our generation, who came of age amidst so many examples of right and wrong, to help us find our way back to what is best about public service and reconfigure those notions for the future.
I believe that the Sixty and Five club will come together to bask in the glow of our time. We are educated, experienced and able to fix much of what is wrong with our communities, our country, and our world. My hope for our new president is that he takes the best of his generation and shows us the path to the idealism and self-sacrifice that we missed by just a few years being born into the 1960’s. Together, we Sixty and Fivers, I believe, will right the course of our history.