On Sleeping Bears

Getting older is a strange thing. I don’t feel older – in fact I feel younger today than I have been for many years. But I am older and the best way of measuring age is not the way in which you feel but rather in the way you relate to older and younger people.

I am not old and yet I have a school tie in my closet that is older than many of my students, I am not old but I am trying to lecture to a room full of people who were born when I was attempting to disco.

The difficult thing about getting old is attempting to talk across the barriers of age. My students perceive me as older and I perceive them as younger. The difference, in a teaching scenario, is the problem of giving examples. It is hard to convey the importance and turmoil of 1989. This was the year that saw both the Tiananmen Square student massacre and the fall of the Berlin wall.

While growing up the concept of the cold war seemed outdated. East-West relations had been frosty for my entire life and we had always lived under the threat of nuclear war. My generation was bored with the fear of nuclear war and were more concerned with the social economic changes brought about by Reagan and Thatcher.  We were tired and blasé, we did not really expect change. We knew that teenagers everywhere where in reality the same but politics was (and is) the game of old men.

So it’s understandable for my generation to see 1989 as a proof of the correctness of optimism and it is equally understandable for my students not to understand why I make a big deal of it all.

The question is what shall we all make of Putin’s decision to re-activate strategic flights by nuclear bombers:

Russia has resumed regular “strategic flights” of nuclear bombers. (They may or may not be carrying nuclear bombs, but you can practically hear Putin’s smirking tone as he says, “Our [nuclear bomber] pilots have been grounded for too long. They are happy to start a new life.”) (via Question Technology)

Are the cold war generation just nodding their heads in the understanding that the last 2o years has been an exception to the status quo. Do the post 1989 generation even think about the possible implications of this or have they lived in a post cold war era for too long to be able to imagine the alternatives.

And what on earth does my generation think about it all…

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