Whenever I meet people of my age (I'm in the fourties), and they start to tell about their life, I often listen to similar stories. Most of these people tried to do it right: they studied something or have a comparable qualification, most are coming from middle-class families; not the worst makings for a successful life.
But apart from private difficulties (especially relationship problems) there's a noticeable lack of success in these biographies. While our parent generation (people who grew up in the 1950s and 60s) had its dreams, if not visions, about a bright future, and an implicite mandate to form and design it, most of this situation changed.
The worth of certain qualifications changed signficantly: a psychologist has to invest several thousand Euros for additional qualifications after his leaving certificate (they are not part of the course of studies but have to be paid privately). A job in science is a warranty for a life of uncertainty: usually labour contracts are temporary and there's a great gap between (older) people with a lifetime post and those without. Teachers no longer become civil servants (usual career until not so long ago): now they are jobless during the holidays. A decade of neo-liberalism and excessive deregulation taught us to have self-responsibility for our life and to invest in our private pension plan - now many of these plans got destroyed in the financial crisis. Losing the job becomes a real threat, and the way how my country treats jobless people didn't get nicer, not at all!
They are still trying to do it right. But economy and politics still tell us that there are no warranties on anything. Now the financial system is in a touch and go situation, many have already lost some money. They're reading about globalization and don't have a clue what that means, because they neither think politically nor economically. They watch things come and go and hope for better times, but will these times come naturally and without guidance? Shouldn't we care about things, about our future instead of just fulfilling our employers' demands?
When I'm reading the news, I'm always learning that older people are right now ruining the economy and younger people are told they belong to a certain 'elite' (another term that we don't like but that we got used to because only the 'elite' can save our competitiveness in the global market). But the middle-aged, middle-class people keep silent. We had our economic booms, we learned to love the Internet, and now we see that technology is going to turn against us. Governments call it 'war on terror', but it's actually a war on the inner enemy, the final goal is the domestication of people that we pay with our civil rights. But there's only few resistance, and many 40+ people are not aware of the permanent loss of privacy or don't have an opinion about this at all.
While people of the 1930s were called the 'silent generation' I would like to call our age-group the 'blurry generation'; some of us are lucky and can live a life in safety and prosperity, others are already belonging to the working poor. They don't look like poor people, though, as many of them are still receiving money from their parents. But what will happen when these parents will be gone one day? We still keep silent, because politics was always off the cards. We try to function as usual, but the old recipes don't work any longer. The world we know is going to change and we still don't know the vocabulary of power. Our descendants won't love us for this.