by Michael W. Waters
Many historians suggest that at least three decades must elapse before one can rightly discern the enduring legacy of an emerging trend or historical occurrence. Having now crossed the thirty year old threshold, I have recently given much thought to the lived-in realities that define my generation, and even the generations immediately following.
Over the course of the next decade, my generation will rise to lay claim to greater positions of power and authority, influence and responsibility throughout society. However, I have deep concerns that if my generation does not properly address the demons of our childhood, our lived-in experience, we will be doomed to either repeat the mistakes of our parents, or to be stagnated by them, in the years to come. And this would prove most tragic, not only for our society, but for our world as a whole.
The prominent issues that have confronted my generation are great in multitude and potent in its impact. The issues range from paternal absenteeism, which I, like many, deem to be society’s greatest ill, to the AIDS epidemic which first emerged during my childhood. Yet, this past weekend’s tragedy that unfolded at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and wrought the demise of the iconic Whitney Houston revealed yet another tragedy, one that, in part, also defines my generation; we are the children of addiction.
Certainly addiction, particularly substance abuse, did not originate with the parents of my generation. Previous generations have known well the horrific perils associated with parental addiction. But I argue that in previous generations, this addiction was not as widespread. The rise of heroin, cocaine, crack-cocaine, methamphetamines, even alcohol abuse over the last thirty years, has had dire consequences upon an entire generation. In many cases, the children of addiction were robbed of their childhood and forced to grow up all too fast.