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Are Baby Boomers A ‘Generation Of Sociopaths’?

A controversial new book argues boomers are beset with egotism, impulsivity and a shocking lack of empathy — and they’re leaving the world a worse place.

MARK HUNT

Long before millennials were dubbed the “Me Generation,” journalist Tom Wolfe used the label to describe the young baby boomers coming of age in the mid-1970s, a time of heightened focus on the self and personal development.

“The new alchemical dream is: changing one’s personality — remaking, remodeling, elevating, and polishing one’s very self … and observing, studying, and doting on it,” Wolfe wrote in a 1976 New York magazine cover story.

To the extent that millennials really are self-absorbed and narcissistic, it may be because they learned from the masters: their parents. Baby boomers ― the unusually large generation born during a wave after World War II ― grew up in a time of historic prosperity. In many ways, the world they’ll leave for their children couldn’t be more different from the one they knew as children.

Boomers blew through resources, racked up debt, and brought an end to economic growth, using their enormous voting power to elect politicians who enacted policies that typically benefitted boomers’ interests, rather than future generations. Now, millennials face more debt, fewer resources and higher levels of unemployment than their parents, and are likely to see the fallout of runaway environmental destruction within their lifetimes.

In his new book, A Generation of Sociopaths, writer and venture capitalist Bruce Gibney puts forth the controversial hypothesis that baby boomers ― specifically the large subset of white, middle-class boomers ― are, both individually and as a group, unusually sociopathic. Gibney cites mental health data showing boomers have significantly higher levels of antisocial traits and behaviors ― including lack of empathy, disregard for others, egotism and impulsivity ― than other generations.

As a result, boomers have used their substantial voting power to create a society and government that don’t work very well. Or, as Gibney puts it, boomers’ “private behaviors congealed into a debased neoliberalism.”

The factual basis for Gibney’s case isn’t perfect. Data on generations prior to boomers is thin, because widespread psychological testing wasn’t as common, and younger generations haven’t been around long enough for long-term data. It’s possible that other generations have major issues as well, but we simply don’t have enough information to assess them properly. Gibney, however, insists that there’s something unique with boomers.

We sat down with Gibney, a Gen-Xer, to learn more about why he says boomers are a generation of sociopaths, and how the boomer agenda has gotten us into the precarious political and economic situation we’re in today.

I imagine that a lot of people have taken issue with the title of your book. Is it really possible to apply a psychological label to an entire generation?  

Well, I think you can match the behaviors and the policies to certain diagnostic criteria. For the boomers ― the youngest are in their 50s and the oldest are in their 70s ― we have a coherent body of data, collected over decades, that map onto this diagnostic criteria of sociopathy.

So we can see sociopathy-associated traits like improvidence ― there is no greater improvidence than failing to save for your retirement. We can postulate the checklist that way. We have an enormous amount of data about the boomer mainstream, and it matches up surprisingly well with the description of antisocial personality disorder.

It’s a good diagnostic label, because what we’re really dealing with is an anti-social society. And that highlights the inherent paradox: Can you have an anti-social society? I don’t actually think you can.

You argue that boomers aren’t genetically predispositioned to be dysfunctional, but instead were conditioned to be that way. What do you mean by that?

I focus mainly on the white, middle-class boomers who constitute the substantial majority of the boom ― it’s a pretty homogenous group, and they were raised in a fairly homogenous way. They were the first generation in the U.S. to be raised permissively. And the evidence strongly suggests that highly permissive parenting leads to some problems later on in life. These people have higher self-esteem, but they tend to be more rebellious and messy, both in the literal sense and in their approach to their own affairs.

They were also the first generation to be raised with television, and there really weren’t parental reservations about screen time. The literature on TV and cognitive and behavioral development is almost universally negative.

They came of age in a time of fairly effortless prosperity … They really just assume that things are going to work out, no matter what. That’s unhelpful conditioning.”Bruce Gibney

And finally, there are certain assumptions that are built up throughout their early lives. For the first half of the boomers particularly, they came of age in a time of fairly effortless prosperity, and they were conditioned to think that everything gets better each year without any real effort. So they really just assume that things are going to work out, no matter what. That’s unhelpful conditioning. You have 25 years where everything just seems to be getting better, so you tend not to try as hard, and you have much greater expectations about what society can do for you, and what it owes you.

So what’s been the fallout of that, in terms of policy and economics? 

There’s obviously been a substantial deceleration of economic growth. The Great Recession arguably began in 2001 and we’ve never entirely recovered ― so that’s 16 years of lost opportunity.

The second big thing on the economic front is the intergenerational passing of burdens, and the most salient one is the debt. Gross debt to GDP 40 years ago was 34 percent, and today it’s around 105 percent. It’s projected by [the Congressional Budget Office] to exceed the World War II highs by the early 2030s. When boomers start taking control and influencing policies, the policies get worse on the debt, so that now we haven’t seen these levels of debt in more than 70 years.

There are consequences to these levels of debt. … But that’s not really relevant for the boomers. This is not their problem and they have not been serious about it. The debt wasn’t discussed as a serious issue during the 2016 presidential election, but Social Security was ― because we know that this program is going to be partially insolvent by 2034. And this is the only thing that Trump and Clinton could agree on: Social Security ― untouchable. Medicare ― untouchable. These things are sacred. They couldn’t even agree where to stand on the stage together, and they agreed on Social Security.

But the boomers must have done some good things, right? 

Toward the end of the book, there’s a chapter called, “The Myth of Boomer Goodness.” Some of the pushback I’ve gotten on the book is people saying, well, didn’t boomers do all these wonderful things, like fighting for civil rights? But there’s no way that chronology works out. The Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act were 1964 and 1965, and only the very oldest boomers could have voted for the congressmen who pushed through that act. So they played no part in those foundational victories. What we have seen instead is the Voting Rights Act gutted.

Or you can take the environment, which is going to affect everybody. This has just not been a serious item for the boomers … They can’t take credit for these enormous civil rights and environmental victories that we saw in the ‘60s and the early 1970s.

 

Are boomers responsible for the rise of Trump? 

Well, he is a boomer, and the leading candidates in the primaries were all boomers. Who’s responsible for the rise of Donald Trump? We could slice and dice the exit polls, or we could blame the FBI, or Putin.

But what I think is really remarkable is that he was ever considered a viable candidate at all. Only after years of disappointment ― economically and otherwise ― could a Manhattan vulgarian with no prior experience emerge as a candidate for the highest office in the United States. So, older white groups were the most enthusiastic about Trump, but there had to first be the conditions that allowed him to even be plausible.

FREE consultation ($150 value). Expert shows you how to make money online.Call (757-647-2886) 24/7 Or Skype me homeprofitcoach NOW! Profit today!” Your success guaranteed.http://www.HomeProfitCoach.com/?rd=kr2fDPDb

Make More Than $1,000,000 Writing, Commissioning, Publishing and Selling “How To” Information

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MAKE MORE THAN $1,000,000 WRITING, COMMISSIONING, PUBLISHING AND SELLING “HOW TO” INFORMATION

$17.95
$9.95
“How To Make A Whole Lot More Than $1,000,000 Writing, Commissioning, Publishing and Selling “How To” Information” digital copy over 500 pages.
A book that can make you a millionaire or better.
Learn

– to profit from what you know
– How to package and market your “How-to” Information
– to give your customers more value with a superior product
–  how to present your information in a most usable format possible
Thousands of people worldwide are now using this book to do two things
– improve the quality of the how-to information they deliver to their readers and listeners
– to make more money.
In other words, with this resource they are doing well by doing good.
This book was written with a single objective in mind: to help you make money creating, commissioning, publishing and selling problem-solving information in

  • ebooks
  • books
  • Special Reports, and

more…
It’ll teach you how to:

  • know the market and direct your product squarely at a large and growing market that has a pain you can take away … or an aspiration you can help them achieve.
  • deliver useful information. Provide the exact details people need to achieve the promise of the product’s title.
  • produce client-centered marketing materials. Motivating individuals to buy your product, by telling him just what he’s getting, all the advantages, benefits you have for him.
  • how to hammer home these benefits in an organized, efficient, relentless way that will make you money in the information business.
  • Update products to sell them for years. If you’ve pinpointed a market in need, produce a valuable problem-solving product, and you’ve resolved to sell your product so long as this market has this problem, updating is inevitable.
  • Creating a line of problem-solving information products. So all your eggs aren’t in one basket … or one product. Diversify and update all your products plus regularly adding new products . . . both ones you’ve created plus ones you got others to create.

and so launch you on your way to becoming the next millionaire information producer.

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Exciting ending to the Robert de Balkany sale. This is one of the largest personal sales ever mounted by Christie’s.

Exciting ending to the Robert de Balkany sale. This is one of the largest personal sales ever mounted by Christie’s.

Mr. de Balkany was well known in cosmopolitan European circles as a bold, far-seeing, and gutsy player in the ultra high end furniture and objet d’art markets. His collection is worth mega millions of dollars.

Lucky for me, just moments ago, I collected the Russian silver dressing mirror dated 1876. It obviously had an important provenance. There is a Royal Princess’s or Archduchess’s coronet mounted at the top of the mirror.

My complete report on this significant acquisition will appear this week. In the meantime, read up on The Lant Collection at www.drjeffreylant.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd1xYKGnOEw

 

No automatic alt text available.

Exciting ending to the Robert de Balkany sale. This is one of the largest personal sales ever mounted by Christie’s.

Mr. de Balkany was well known in cosmopolitan European circles as a bold, far-seeing, and gutsy player in the ultra high end furniture and objet d’art markets. His collection is worth mega millions of dollars.

Lucky for me, just moments ago, I collected the Russian silver dressing mirror dated 1876. It obviously had an important provenance. There is a Royal Princess’s or Archduchess’s coronet mounted at the top of the mirror.

My complete report on this significant acquisition will appear this week. In the meantime, read up on The Lant Collection at www.drjeffreylant.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd1xYKGnOEw

No automatic alt text available.
FREE consultation ($150 value). Expert shows you how to make money online.Call (757-647-2886) 24/7 Or Skype me homeprofitcoach NOW! Profit today!” Your success guaranteed.http://www.HomeProfitCoach.com/?rd=kr2fDPDb

“Quoth the Raven ‘NEVERMORE’”

Edgar_Poe_with_raven“Quoth the Raven ‘NEVERMORE’”

Our good friend Edgar Allen Poe dropped by today… He was
in the gloomiest mood yet, and he’s famous for his gloomies.
They are dark and impenetrable… no fun at all.

The reason he’s depressed today is because he wants to invite
for dinner and study a Raven who lives in the neighborhood. His
objective is to characterize him absolutely right in his next Really Big
Poem; the kind it takes a lifetime to write… and lives forever.

Unfortunately this Raven, obnoxious smart like all Ravens, is just not
cooperating. Instead he keeps taunting Poe, laughing raucous;
obnoxious and infuriating. Now what? www.writerssecrets.com is
what!

Edgar signed up at www.writerssecrets.com and in no time learned
how to work with Ravens, even on midnights dreary, while he ponders weak
and weary.

Then one pitch-black night, he was ready when the Raven came cawing, cawing,
tapping, rapping on Poe’s chamber door. Here how it went… The  deep sable Raven
make his presence known and at that moment Poe, well advised, well practised
dropped his pants and showed the Raven The Moon. This arresting scene caused
the Raven to wince and shriek “Nevermore!” Then “Nevermore” again… and again.
Forever after Edgar kept everything needed to perpetrate the splendid Moon readily
at hand! And the Raven found he could mind his manners after all.

Just think, old Poe learned it all at www.writerssecrets.com Oh, My!

A George Quacker Production
Jeffrey Lant Associates, Inc.

FREE consultation ($150 value). Expert shows you how to make money online.Call (757-647-2886) 24/7 Or Skype me homeprofitcoach NOW! Profit today!” Your success guaranteed.http://www.HomeProfitCoach.com/?rd=kr2fDPDb

THE UNABASHED SELF-PROMOTER’S GUIDE

THE UNABASHED SELF-PROMOTER’S GUIDE

$17.95
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The Unabashed Self-Promoter’s Guide -WHAT EVERY MAN, WOMAN, CHILD AND ORGANIZATION IN AMERICA NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT GETTING AHEAD BY EXPLOITING THE MEDIA digital copy over 300 pages.

A book used by a huge range of people from those with the most idealistic motives to those who have no other motive than simply wanting to get filthy rich.

Members of state legislatures and celebrities with well-known names are using this book to build their stature and promote their interests…

Entrepreneurs swear by it because it promotes their products and services to targeted constituencies who can buy and benefit from their babies.

Entertainers, charities and nonprofit organizations of every kind, even budding revolutionaries have all found in these pages the secrets they need to influence their publics.

And, not surprisingly, hundreds of authors and publishers have found here exactly what they need to sell more books.
This is the most detailed book ever written on how to get all the free space you want in the print media… and all the free air time on radio and television. What’s more the techniques work!

Updated ways Dr. Lant is using for FREE Exposure Online – www.writerssecrets.com

If you have a product or service this book will show you how to

– use the media/internet to get ahead and reap the considerable benefits that only the media can bestow on you.
– bring your product and service to the attention of just the people who can be motivated to buy it.

– get free print space… and free time on radio and television.

– reduce your advertising budget to tiny proportions without cutting into your ability to generate significant sales.

– develop high public exposure.

,
This book which seeks to show you the paramount role of media in American life and give you the steps you need to cash in on media for your own benefit… and the benefit of those who need to hear about you and what you’re promoting, be that product, service or cause.
Use this book in conjunction with the other 6 books in my Entrepreneurial Series.
Find out more at www.drjeffreylant.com

It’s very much in your interest, since it contains a host of recommendations on how to improve the profitability and efficiency of your business, whatever kind of business you’re running, profit or not-for-profit.

FREE consultation ($150 value). Expert shows you how to make money online.Call (757-647-2886) 24/7 Or Skype me homeprofitcoach NOW! Profit today!” Your success guaranteed.http://www.HomeProfitCoach.com/?rd=kr2fDPDb

“To be or not to be…” THAT ISN’T THE FRIGGIN’ QUESTION, Hamlet.

 

Hamlet_and_skull“To be or not to be…”

THAT ISN’T THE FRIGGIN’ QUESTION, Hamlet.

The question is whether you’re ever going to stop
talking about writing… and actually get started
learning how to write better than your friend
Will Shakespeare.

You know, he learned the ins and outs of
the writing trade at www.writerssecrets.com and has
never looked back, whilst you were wasting time
talking to a skull. There’s no money in that… and
it’s creepy, too.

Listen, Ham, there’s a free info kit available for
you now that’ll gets you started. No obligation

www.writerssecrets.com ‘Tis no madness in
this method!

George Quacker promotions
Jeffrey Lant Assoc., Inc.

All rights reserved

“To be or not to be…”

THAT ISN’T THE FRIGGIN’ QUESTION, Hamlet.

The question is whether you’re ever going to stop
talking about writing… and actually get started
learning how to write better than your friend
Will Shakespeare.

You know, he learned the ins and outs of
the writing trade at www.writerssecrets.com and has
never looked back, whilst you were wasting time
talking to a skull. There’s no money in that… and
it’s creepy, too.

Listen, Ham, there’s a free info kit available for
you now that’ll gets you started. No obligation

www.writerssecrets.com ‘Tis no madness in
this method!

FREE consultation ($150 value). Expert shows you how to make money online.Call (757-647-2886) 24/7 Or Skype me homeprofitcoach NOW! Profit today!” Your success guaranteed.http://www.HomeProfitCoach.com/?rd=kr2fDPDb
FREE consultation ($150 value). Expert shows you how to make money online.Call (757-647-2886) 24/7 Or Skype me homeprofitcoach NOW! Profit today!” Your success guaranteed.http://www.HomeProfitCoach.com/?rd=kr2fDPDb

Of Fairy Tales. Create Your Own…

We all probably have our favorite fairy tales, a bit of a fantasy with amazing characters, and of course the wicked villain.

They may include elements of magic, include a journey, perhaps a journey of self discovery. There will be good deeds and the wicked deeds, perhaps a prophecy or  revolution and usually a moral at the end of the story.

We love them. We loved them as a child and share them with our children. Well how about writing your own?

Lets get started…

First we need to start developing our tale. What characters will be in your story?

Where does the story take place? Let your imagination take over and build it up so you can take your readers there and make it real for them.

Start the momentum and figure out what sort of scenario will come about.

Write out your plot with a beginning, middle and end. You want it strong in the beginning. Strong in the middle and strong at the end.

Have a strong beginning that will draw your readers in. Again look to your favorite fairy tales for examples.

Let the action begin. Remember fairy tales are are usually fairly short.

Let your creation flow not worrying about the editing part until you’ve got your story down. Make as many drafts as you need until your fairy tale is complete with correct  spelling and all.

Turn it into a readable format, create a cover and share it with your friends, family or even get it published.

I’d love to hear your Fairy Tale ideas! Just post them in the comment box below.

FREE consultation ($150 value). Expert shows you how to make money online.Call (757-647-2886) 24/7 Or Skype me homeprofitcoach NOW! Profit today!” Your success guaranteed.http://www.HomeProfitCoach.com/?rd=kr2fDPDb

A Woman’s Interview Was Cancelled Because She Asked How Much The Job Paid

Via Taylor Byrnes / Twitter

And outraged Twitter users are calling for a boycott of the company

It’s been so drilled into all of us throughout our lives that it’s “uncouth” to talk about money. Discussing payment is the most awkward part of a job interview because of it. But that doesn’t mean talking compensation isn’t a seriously important part of the interview process. At the end of the day it’s a job — which is something you do for money so you can live.

Taylor Byrnes was past her initial phone interview for a menu development job at SkipTheDishes, a food delivery service based in Winnipeg, when she sent an email to an HR person at the company to ask what kind of salary and benefits came with the position. The HR person’s response was that asking that question made Byrnes a poor fit for the company, and her second interview was cancelled.

“Your questions are valid ones and we would like to clarify where we may have not communicated our position clearly,” the response began. “As a startup company, we seek out those who go out of their way to seek out challenges and new opportunities. We believe in hard work and perseverance in pursuit of company goals as opposed to focusing on compensation. Our corporate culture may be unique in this way, but it is paramount that staff display intrinsic motivation and are proven self-starters. For these reasons, questions about compensation and benefits at such an early stage is a concern related to organizational fit.”

Just to clarify, this “early stage” was after Byrnes had already completed one interview and been asked back for another. But anyway.

A follow-up email from SkipTheDishes read, “Your questions reveal that your priorities are not in sync with those of SkipTheDishes. At this time we will not be following through with our meeting this Thursday.”

Byrnes tweeted screencaps of the entire exchange.

THE CAMBRIDGE COMMON. AN OPINIONATED GUIDE FOR VISITORS.

THE CAMBRIDGE COMMON. AN OPINIONATED GUIDE FOR VISITORS.

 
by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. Today is the first day of spring. I open the shutters, strictly closed against the dreary winter just passed. It is vibrant… it is radiant… it is the sun as we have not seen it for some months now.

Of course, being that we are in New England, we must take nothing for granted. The calendar says spring, but I reckon winter has at least one great blast left for us. Heavy wet snow in the morning, melted by afternoon.

Spring is to me a reminder, personally delivered, saying summer visitors are just around the corner. Prepare. If you’re not organized, they’ll come anyway, but you’ll be forced to tell each of them the facts that follow. This is time consuming, and results in visitors being given different “tours”… some long and leisurely, others rushed, because I have other things to do.

This year I intend to approach the matter differently. And so I am writing for you, dear traveler, the facts I feel that you must have and know about this place you are visiting. For this is no ordinary place, as you will soon see, and it would be most unfortunate if you came and went without knowing why it is so distinctive and significant.

How history should be told

I have been a writer on historical subjects for over 50 years. I am now clear on what it takes to write history that people will read and understand. For the goal of history is never to exult the writer, but to inform the reader.

The worst possible way of doing this is to rely on dates to carry the story. Pilgrims came here on such and such a date. Abraham Lincoln visited on such and such a date. George and Martha Washington were resident here from such and such a date to such and such a date.

This is not history; this is a historical obstacle course. It may work for crossword puzzles, but it does not do if you want to know and retain something of significance about this or any other place. Dates are significant only to provide clarity on just when certain things happened. But if you say nothing but dates, you must perforce bore your audience.

It is hardly any wonder why so many youngsters in our school system rate history at the bottom of their favorite classes and groan about the dates they were forced to memorize.

But history is not a matter of dates alone, it is a matter of people… what they did, when they did it, how they did it, why they did it. And so history becomes the greatest subject of all, for it is about all of us, each in our turn, each in our way, each in our time.

And so now I want you to join me on the north side of the Cambridge Common. It is where I have lived for the last 40 years or so. This does not necessarily mean that I know anything about the place, for the mere passing of time does not confer insight or a credible understanding of what is all around me on any given day.

It is my intention that when you put down this article and come and visit, you will be prepared for the great stories that took place just steps away, and which shaped a nation and the lives of millions.

We begin.

The Pilgrims landed in North America in 1620. Most were sick. All were debilitated. Many died. No one emerged unscathed. These people came through the terrible North Atlantic in pursuit of the God who governed and directed them.

They landed at Plymouth Rock, and were so bereft of provisions that when they found a few Indian graves near the beach, they ransacked the tombs for corn and other foodstuffs and ate the contents. The colony hung by a thread through the long terrible winter of 1621. The spirit may have been willing, but the bodies, frail and pathetic, were weak.

It took them a full decade to arrive at what was then called Newtowne. Sir Richard Saltonstall, from a prominent English family, landed his party at a bend in the Charles River. And to show you how little time has elapsed from that event, I used to banter with Senator William Saltonstall, a direct descendant, in summers at Manchester-by-the-Sea. We must not, therefore, think of the Pilgrims as far distant, but as much closer to us than we usually allow.

The Pilgrims were motivated by two major things. One, and always prime, was their direct relationship with God. But they also wanted to know what was “out there”. To understand these early days and what has come since, we must do the conjuring trick of erasing from our minds any idea, anything we consider modern, and put ourselves precisely in the shoes of the Pilgrims, whose survival on this continent was not guaranteed, and for whom longevity seemed an elusive objective.

Nonetheless, they regularly sent out scouting parties to see what they could see of the natives, who they knew were there, and of the many things they knew nothing about at all. Thus what takes the modern traveler just about 53 minutes by car, from Plymouth to Cambridge, took ten years… with no path, no guide, not even wayward hearsay and gossip to enlighten them. We must never forget how far they went when going anywhere at all was a matter of faith and determination.

In due course, they arrived at Newtowne, a place of swamps and disease. Their needs were basic and immediate… which leads to the first macabre tale. On the south side of the Common, just up a bit from what much later became Harvard Square, you will find a cemetery… unkempt… a place for vagrants… an outdoor urinal. Thus showing there is no respect for the dead.

This, curiously enough, was a Puritan belief as well. The first cemetery that was placed on that sight offered no reverence for the dead. Pilgrims who died were thrown over the parapet to be eaten by beasts. There is no demarcation left of just where this way of burial was handled. The marks have been lost over time.

It often puzzled me why the bodies were treated with such scant respect… but then I began to think of all these Pilgrims had to do to keep body and soul together under the most unhappy circumstances. There was simply too much to do, and too few to do it to worry about whether the mourning niceties had been kept. Thus once the spirit left the body, the body was thrust away, a thing of no significance whatsoever, and treated accordingly.

Created in 1630

The Cambridge Common was created in 1630. It was a place for the members of the congregation to pasture their cows and other livestock. The enclosure movement, which rocked English society in the 18th Century, was not yet common in North America. The communal land that constitutes the Common was therefore at the heart of their way of living.

It was not that they necessarily liked each other, it was that they needed each other. And perhaps the worst thing that can happen to a people is they no longer need each other, and so become careless about their relations, thus leading to terrible social consequences.

On the Common, just 8.5 acres in size, more was going on than just tethering animals on common ground. When you stand in the middle of the Common as I have done so many times over 40 years, you must be aware of the great events that occurred all around you.

First, in the 17th Century, the sheer arrival of these people and their inspiring trek to religious freedom for all constituted an event of epic importance. This was the first place in the world where genuine freedom of belief came to exist. Of course, it didn’t happen without incident or tragedy. No great event involving religion has ever taken place without brutality and intolerance. It seems that every culture says, in its own way, “I love me, so I have no regard for thee.”

The true message of New England and of the Common is that here, people finally came to grips with the necessity for tolerance and diversity… which ultimately became the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Look around you now… if you are a believer, you are welcome here to believe. If you are a non believer, you are welcome here to believe nothing more than you care to. These are grand ideas, by no means inevitable.

Unfortunately, of course, not everyone agreed. And so, on the perimeter along what is now Massachusetts Avenue, there is a plaque, so often covered with weeds, commemorating the evacuation of the Reverend Thomas Hooker from his intolerable situation in 1636.

It is worth noting that not only was religious diversity advanced here, but the rights of women too. Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643) was not only a great theologian, but she was a woman doing the theological work of men, suffering accordingly.

The next great event

The next great idea which came alive on the Common was the American Revolution. On these grounds, now more accustomed to frisbees and soccer balls, General George Washington took plow boys and transformed them into soldiers, and ultimately then these soldiers into victory.

Washington moved daily from his grand home on Brattle Street, confiscated from the town’s leading merchant Henry Vassal, who remained loyal to the Crown. Washington on a nice day like this would walk to his office in what is now Harvard Yard, just a few blocks away. He was a great man. He was a man who might have been king. But he stopped along the way, to check on the well being of his troops. This is what good leaders do.

When you see the Common, you must imagine it as it was in its various stages. Troops during the Revolution slept under hastily erected tents, which might mean bringing the materials from home, since the commissary of the newly formed United States was meager, and there was no money for amenities. Men grew hardened under such circumstances or they died; there was no middle ground.

Most of them died through disease. What you must consider when you look about the Common is how they lived their lives. The biggest problem of course was what to do with all the human waste, and that of the horses. It was noisome… it was dangerous. And the camp on the Common teetered on the brink of demise from disease.

The great figures of the revolution were not nearly as important just then as the people who discarded the waste and kept disease at bay. The Marquis de Lafayette, General Tadeusz Kościuszko, Baron von Steuben, Casimir Pulaski, Washington himself… these were the grand names, but not always the most important people.

Martha Washington came too. It used to be thought that Martha Washington was a plain woman of no particular personal regard, but that has proven to be wrong. She was in 1776 age 45, a widow of charm and resources. Too little is said about her trips to Cambridge, or for that matter the long weary days at Mt. Vernon. “Remember the ladies”, Abigail Adams had said to her husband John (on March 31, 1776). However until women’s studies had commenced centuries later, they were all too often neglected.

The role of Harvard, hard by the Common

Harvard College was formed in 1636. It was generally conceded throughout the Puritan ranks that an educational institution of higher learning was needed, and as quickly as possible. God required foot soldiers to preach the Holy Gospel, and these self-same preachers must have the superior education needed to propound and maintain the scripture of their particular belief. Harvard College was the result, as were the seven churches that surround the Common… a model of civic development existing nowhere else.

Harvard was named after the man who made its first bequest, John Harvard. Because there were no bridges over the Charles River until 1662, it was very difficult to go to Boston. College officials thought that was just as well. After all, Boston was not as Godly as Cambridge, but it was the center of business and trade in all of New England. Cambridge meant God, Boston meant Mammon… and good times for wayward boys. Some things never change.

When you visit

I hope now through these brief words you understand why I regard these handful of acres as among the very most important and significant in our entire history. Personally, I feel blessed at the thought that I am able to advance and maintain the work necessary to keep the true meaning of this worthy spot vibrant and alive, forever.

It is a thrill and it is necessary, for without people who remember history, there will be no history to remember.

Musical note

I have selected to accompany this article the “Old 100th” hymn. Composed in 1551 by Loys Bourgeois, it is arguably the most well known hymn in the Christian repertoire. It is very probably the first hymn rendered by the Pilgrims upon their arrival, although because there are many versions of the lyrics, we cannot be sure which ones the Pilgrims used.

“All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.”

And so, taking their strength from God’s mercy, they found the strength they needed to confront another day.

Click here to hear the song.

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