Why is the world like it is?
It is an interesting question. Unfortunately it is the wrong question. The world is what we perceive it to be and our perceptions are based largely on our experiences…or at least the experiences we tend to remember. This is why attitudes about the world are vastly different between generations. This doesn’t mean that age determines attitude, just that age contributes to attitude.
So why do different generations tend to see the world differently?
The 1950’s – The Calm After the Storms
- Population: 151.3 million
- Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita: $15,029
- Median Annual Income: $4,237
- Life Expectancy: 68.2
- Average Age at Marriage: Men 22.8, Women 20.3
- % of pop. w/high school degree or higher: 34.3%
- % of pop. w/college degree or higher: 6.2%
POST DEPRESSION, POST WAR
If you were an adult, you just survived through the most massive conflict in history. Millions died directly or indirectly because of the war. The United States of America was expected to fold after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Instead, Americans pulled off a miracle by sacrificing normal daily life for a united country at war.
With victory in World War II came a fierce pride, but nobody was ready to rush into another war anytime soon. Despite that, a growing fear of Russia’s aggression put everyone on edge that they might be plunged into even a more horrible war than the one they survived.
Children of the 1950’s were witnesses to a traumatized adult population. Their grandparents lived through the Great Depression where the unthinkable financial disaster became everyone’s reality. Both grandparents and parents survived World War II. An event that stopped normal living and put everyone under the shadow of death and fear. Children also became a victim of the Cold War where fear of a global extinction event was a real possibility.
The massive industrialization for World War II created new jobs, more money, and a sudden burst of growth in the economy. Companies grabbed up anyone with advanced training or knowledge to incorporate advancements in technology created during the crisis of the war. People suddenly could afford luxuries like televisions, phones, cars and new homes. This prosperity was juxtaposed against the horrors that the world had experienced in the previous 20 years. It was truly the best of times and the worst of times.
NEXT: The 1960’s