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On The Cusp

by Eva Pasco

Kent State 

This week's historically unprecedented presidential inauguration entailed a generational "passing of the torch" where a cultural era heretofore dominated by boomers has ended.  Though Aretha's hat deserves commemoration as well as her rendition of "America ," I hereby nominate Franki Valli to strain his vocal chords in delivering this dirge: 


Bye bye boomers, boomers good-bye

Bye bye boomers don't make me cry...


At 47 years of age, President Barack Obama is technically a baby boomer for having been born between 1946 and 1964.  Though raised post-Vietnam, this late boomer came of age in the eighties, thereby distancing himself from a generation touting idealism and leaning more toward pragmatism. So, in spirit, our nation's 44th prez is not quite a boomer though he's not your sterotypically cynical Gen Xer either.  That puts him on the cusp...


1969 was a pivotol year on the cusp of ending the counter-cultural Sixties while approaching the oppositional Seventies. That same year I became a freshman at Rhode Island College , embarking on an intellectual journey driven by idealism. During September's inaugural convocation held inside Roberts Hall, I bonded with fellow classmates, strangers who paired by chance on the auditorium's stage.  I happened to lock hands with a lanky, longhaired dude named Dennis.  We swooned to the Youngbloods’ lyrical illusion of idealism:


C'mon people now, smile on your brother

Ev'rybody get together

We can love one another right now...


Since Dennis pursued a major in liberal arts and I followed the yellow brick road of elementary education, we never interacted again.  However, when passing each other on campus, an inextricable connection would invariably surface as we exchanged greetings.


The honeymoon period of idealism soon evolved into pragmatism.  Overwhelmed by my course load, I wanted to drop out.  My mother's intervention of tough love forbade me to quit so I persevered under protest.  Then, I became disgruntled with second semester registration. Squished between two people who were squished between two people in the damp wee hours of the morn, all of us were ready to burst into Whipple Gym once those doors opened for business. From that point on it boiled down to a Darwinian survival of the fittest.  A humbling experience to say the least, as classes you needed filled quickly to the point of exclusion. Or, if a new section opened you might have to fill out a form to drop one of the classes you acquired due to a scheduling conflict.  A lesson in pragmatism for sure... 


The worst was yet to come by the tide of events brewed on May 4, 1970 with the student uprising i.e. massacre at Ohio's  Kent State University .  Prompted by Tricky Dick's announcement to continue bombing Cambodia , student protestors and the National Guard stood their oppositional ground.  Panicked guardsmen hailed bullets killing four students and wounding nine, escalating a student uprising to a watershed moment in the antiwar movement.


"For What It's Worth," There's something happening here, What it is ain't exactly clear... As a gesture of solidarity, smiling on our brothers, most students from every campus in the land went on strike.  College administrators gave us the choice of continuing classes to the regularly scheduled end of the semester; taking final exams early; accepting current grades.  Fortunately, my academic standing enabled me to make the pragmatic decision of taking my lumps to cut myself loose.


Wide-eyed or tie-dyed, there comes a point in time when all of us must relinquish naive idealism to embrace pragmatism. In doing so, this question arises: Are we on the cusp of self-advancement or self-preservation?


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Underlying Notes by Eva Pasco  An E. Quiche by Eva Pasco



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