Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

[#FORUM] How do you deal with your grace of late birth?

"The grace of late birth" is a phrase I picked up from the German from one of John Ardagh's survey volumes of Germany, a quote from Helmut Kohl who said that he was thankful that his generation of Germans (he was born in 1930) didn't have to deal with the question of the guilt of their generation or its members for the crimes of Nazi Germany--they weren't of age yet, many weren't even born--and so were spared any responsibility for a criminal regime or adult experiences with the past. His generation, raised in the West's social market economy or the East's Communism, could grow and thrive as adults without necessarily having to engage with what their parents' generation had done. (That could be left for a later generation.)

Why did I pick up the phrase? Its personal relevance. I was born in 1980, 11 years after the repeal of Canada's sodomy laws; I reached what was then the age of sexual consent in Canada, 14, 13 years after the first diagnosis of AIDS in Canada and just a couple of years before the introduction of the first effective antiretroviral treatments; and in 2005, just over a year after I moved to Toronto, same-sex marriage was made legal across Canada. I was lucky enough to be born late enough to enjoy (as an adult) equality before the law with heterosexuals, well after the surprise catastrophic onset of HIV/AIDS and the (too) later development of effective medical treatments for those infected with the virus. Had I been born only a couple of decades earlier, I'd have been quite in the thick of it all. (Hopefully for a very extended period of time.)

I enjoy the grace of late birth: my encounters with homophobia and HIV/AIDS, while certainly unpleasant, have certainly been much less difficult than what I know others have experienced. It's up to me to determine how I react to those past experiences, things I would have gone through had things been only slightly different. But how?

That's why I ask--and not only for my own personal sake, but out of a more general curiosity--how you, my readers, deal with your own graces of late birth?
Tags: forums, germany, hiv/aids, non blog, popular culture, second world war

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