I recently came across an article listing generational names in the United States. A similar categorisation can be found in the United Kingdom. For those of you who are not familiar with this system, I list here the five generations:
2000 to present: Generation Z.
1980 to 2000: Millennials.
1965 to 1979: Generation X.
1946 to 1964: Baby Boomers.
1925 to 1945: Silent Generation.
To my amazement and horror, and without revealing my age, I can tell you that I am a member of the Silent Generation.
Where did this strange name come from? Although the exact source is lost in the mists of time, there are a number of suggestions. Children who grew up during this time were told that they should be seen and not heard. At the time, in America, Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Committee on Un-American Activities were forcefully silencing debate as part of their attempts to encourage anti-communist feelings. It became dangerous for people to speak freely. They became cautious about expressing their opinions and beliefs and with whom they met. In effect, they were ‘silenced.’
In 1952, the use of the term was reinforced by an article in Time magazine that said the children of the ‘Silent Generation’ were unimaginative, withdrawn, unadventurous, and cautious.
But, I will not be silent.
I see the rising antisemitism in the UK. Antisemitic incidents in UK are at a record high with more than 100 incidents a month in 2018, levels of attacks on Jews not seen since the 1930s and Mosley’s British Union of Fascists. Keep quiet, I am told. We must keep our heads down, take off our kippot. If we pretend not to notice, maybe the antisemites will leave us alone.
But, I will not be silent.
Here in Israel, we of the Silent Generation see the country we worked so hard to build, in the hands of politicians who think only of their own egos and pockets. We see an IDF that comes to a cease-fire agreement with a band of terrorists, an army with all the latest weapons at it disposal that is cowered into submission by terrorists firing old drainpipes. We see our sidewalks taken over by kids, Generation Z, on every possible kind of scooter, with no thought for the safety and enjoyment of us old timers, and no action by the police against these lawbreakers.
But, we will not be silent.
I, of the Silent Generation, did not grow up with computers. I cannot make my SmartPhone sing and dance. Members of Generation Z will be surprised, if not downright disbelieving, to hear that when I was young there was no internet. But I have learnt enough to write a Blog, even if I need my grandchildren to help me get it off the paper and into the light of day. I know how to make my voice heard, I will not be silent.