The one thing about my generation and the ones coming up is that, for the most part, we are truly more empathetic and accepting than any generation that’s come before us. The irony, of course, is that we had to learn it from the generations who came before us.
We learned it from their own failures. In some ways they instilled it in us as a way to repent for their own shortcomings as it relates to creating a fair world. They tried but for circumstances beyond their control and circumstances that got away from them, they eventually grabbed a numbered ticket and became the model citizens our education system is designed to cultivate.
And while it is a struggle to be well informed in an over-saturated age of information, we are at least engaged. There are the indifferent among us, those who shrink their world to a tight bubble, only to become outraged when it begins to deflate. But even they are aware of what’s happening.
The problem is not a lack of will or awareness but instead the weight of a system designed to passively suppress the people it is supposed to benefit. Many feel completely powerless, not because they are but because they were groomed to accept the necessity of a master.
“Listen to adults,” is something every child hears from the moment they become bipedal, but as we learn later, adults can be just as bad as children, and in many ways worse. Yet if adults aren’t enough to instill obedience then there’s a vast selection of Gods to elicit the appropriate amount of fear.
Individualism is cherished according to our national narrative. We should and could be whatever we want to be. Yet when you look at how our society and culture actually treats individuality, as we do other ideals we claim to cherish, we let the Teslas die poor and alone while the Edisons, innovative thieves, become national icons. We enslaved people based purely on their appearance and culture, and then many years later, after building a country on the backs and lives of other human beings, we tell them they are free. But in reality they’re just given permission to roam a little further from the farm. It seems only some Americans were actually free, and they are the ones who managed to convince us we are too.
For a country that has long touted its freedom and originality, we sure as Hell have done a truly remarkable job of diluting and undermining both, domestically and abroad. The sad thing is that every American is here today because of those awful moments in our nation. The United States of America may have been founded on noble principle but it was built with blood and souls extracted from people who had no choice.
It’s that reality that kills me. That feeling of not having a choice about how to live your life. Of feeling trapped or pressured to fall in line, grab that numbered ticket, and accept that no lives matter. We are just nuts and bolts, tiny expendable parts of infinity.
I think that’s why the generations who will soon inherit the world understand that blind hate is acidic and toxic. That’s why we’re as empathetic as we are because technology has exposed us to so many kinds of suffering, whether it’s kids dying from starvation to brutal modern dictatorships to the dim, lifeless eyes of a Baby Boomer who bought in but never got paid out.
All generations learn from the failures of the generation before them, but rarely remember the lesson. To me that’s the scariest part. At what point do we give up all hope? At what point do we succumb to the same defeatism and fear the Baby Boomers gave into (on some level)? The same generation who fought against Goldwater and Nixon yet later supported Reagan/Bush. The same generation that fought for peace and equality now considers voting for the Trumps and Cruzs of the world. And to be fair, there are the Boomers among us who Feel the Bern, but if it’s Trump or Hillary they’re voting Trump.
Maybe it’s that we are bound to realize the world truly is cruel and unfair, and that humanity will be a minor dent in time. An entire species on a train running out of track, controlled by a man who’s so convinced of the inevitable outcome, he hammers the throttle forward just to get it over with, forgetting there are brakes.
Fuck it, let’s go out in a massive ball of fire, horror, and mangled steel.
It might not have the same ring as the emptier political slogans, but at least it’s honest. And hey, if the current generations in power are going to destroy the world, at least do it for something more valuable than money.
For those of you who thumb your noses at us, remember it is you and your peers who taught us that money isn’t everything. Culturally we are the richest generation, and that might be the only thing that is making the financially poor aspect of our lives tolerable.