This is an open letter to those of you who are younger than me — and to my generation too.
My generation was filled with complainers. Mirroring the Rolling Stones’ song, we weren’t satisfied.
We complained about women not being able to buy houses and cars in their own names. Now they can.
We questioned the status quo, especially when it came to gender roles, not just for women, but also for men. We complained about limited roles for men, and said that men should be able to stay home and take care of their children if they wanted to. Contemporary society no longer frowns on men who want to be active in parenting.
We complained about women who had no safe way to prevent pregnancy, and complained about those who did not have the funds to prevent pregnancy. In particular, we complained that old fundamentalist men wanted to tell us when or if or how to have a child. Thousands of women from several generations marched together. We now have birth control and abortion — whether you want to use them or not, women now have those options.
We complained about segregated advertising for employment, and that became illegal, opening the way for women to enter new professions.
We complained about school money focused only on boys’ after-school activities and sports. Now we have Title IX. We decided that homophobia was stupid, and now we have gay marriage.
Yelling “Peace Now” and other slogans, we protested the Vietnam War. Although we didn’t end all wars, we brought that one to an end.
We complained about racism. Laws were passed desegregating society and creating affirmative action.
We complained about a lot of things and followed up with activity. We marched and protested and picketed and kept on complaining. We were thorns in the side of society.
We didn’t always succeed, but we pushed onward. No, we didn’t do it in a few years, and no, we didn’t do it by ourselves. No, we didn’t solve all of the problems of the world, but we did something. Yes, I know war and racism still exist. Perhaps we got tired. Perhaps we gave up before we should have. Maybe the media just stopped noticing when we complained.
Most of you reading this are probably members of younger generations. It’s your turn to join us complainers. Please do. Become a complainer. Let’s see what else we can do together.