All You Can Be – from Cybil Discourse

I was talking with a compatriot several decades younger than myself about the messages we get as children. I wondered what the vagaries of difference in the message, if any, might be between those who grew up in lower and middle income areas, and those who grew up amongst the top of the ladder both economic and social. The conversation took an interesting detour.
I was talking about the message that “you can be anything you want to be”, “you can do anything”, given hard work and dedication.
This message rang loud and clear in my childhood. It was everywhere, from school to scouts, church to TV programs. Yes I knew that I was probably never going to be an Olympic gymnast -but- the apple hung out there IF you cared enough and worked hard enough, you could try.
That was even the patriotic message, that in the US you were free to try. In my day there were even scholarships and grants to make that college somewhat within reach. Or you could work your way through.

My friend didn’t get the same message. The message was there , but half-hearted. Something you said to kids, but didn’t really believe. I’m trying to remember TV from the 80’s. Was it part of the message there?

Now I went to school during a wonderful, inspirational time in US history. JFK, Martin Luther King, the Feminist and Civil Rights movements, NASA put a man on the moon. Many of the people of my parents generation were the first to graduate High School and thanks to the GI Bill many had gone to college. And of course our economy was growing.

My friend went to school after these great leaders had been killed. The civil rights movement was stuck in recalcitrant racism. Income levels were flat for the average worker, but we hadn’t yet defined the problem (Reagan was telling us we were better off). Feminism had put women to work, but hadn’t leveled the playing field either in wages or home and child care. Divorce had soared and a generation learned that families and marriages were easily broken.

I grew up with Leave it to Beaver, my friend with The Simpsons.

Are these the reasons for our difference in perception, or was I simply naive and my friend more cynical? I’d like to hear from folks of all ages. What was your experience as a child?
Posted by Cybil Discourse at 4:29 AM