Photo of me, circa 1995. I enjoy hay most times, but there’s just something about grass… Oh give me a home… where the buffalo roam…
Over time, I’ve grown accustomed to my cynical interpretations of the world, although I will admit for honesty’s sake that I don’t think it’s the proper way to view the world. Being a cynic is the same as being an optimist, is the same as being a broken clock… you’re likely to be right at least twice in a day. Still, when you see the amount of stupidity and arrogance and brutality it’s just impossible not to cling to your ideals. Most of us need them for comfort. I see the future in blips that my mind tries to decipher. I see a little bit of what I remember from history classes. Repetition is the way of the world. You’ll see a glorious Fourth Reich emerge under the guise of the ‘American Dream’ and that’ll be the end of it. Rome prospered as a Republic. It floundered as an Empire. The era of the Christian empire… we refer to that these days as the ‘Dark Ages’. And, for all my cynicism, I can’t shake the bitter truth that’s chewing on my insides… you know, that vital point where the gut calls out to those who refuse to accept it.
I woke up during a generation that wasn’t accustomed to such harsh realities. We knew the world around us from a twenty-inch television screen. We saw the horror appear between cartoons, when our fathers would flip the channels for a moment, and in this way we were exposed to the densely packed chicanery of the outside world. If anything separated us or made us unique when compared to the generations before it’s that our parents and various consignment of adults seemed to inspire the apathy that would cement our legacy. They wanted us to be less inspired. They wanted us to be comfortable, because they weren’t when they were at our age. We weren’t hippies, although we enjoyed the drug use. We weren’t our harsh conservative counterparts leading impetuous, vulgar crusades against any other forms of reality that might coincide with our belief structures. Simply put… we just were. We saw the worst of both worlds. We saw Columbine, when two teenage boys brought in assault rifles and made their school into a war-zone. We saw Bill Clinton and the amorality that accompanied him, although the macabre demeanor of the entire circus was something all the more vulgar, as those who persecuted him were outed as pederasts and conmen. This is the world that my generation knew. We heard the words of our doom and devastation, but none of it seemed so real as to shake us out of this spell, for which I have no words.
I’ll admit that all the dangers seemed far away. We were a generation that grew up playing as pirates and soldiers, while not knowing that children are age in worlds far away were playing these games for real. Child soldiers, child slaves, child abduction. There was no such thing as ‘a childhood’ in other worlds, where kids our same age were forced to grow up much too fast, while we were allowed to hold onto ours up to the age of… well… I’m thirty-one… so… I think I have a few more years.
If it was one issue… and only one… which is a stretch, as I’m sure you could pick several issues with how our society operates… I think that our culture developed some form of impenetrable, narcissistic wall around us. Our parents, along with various corporate sponsors and conservative, amoral senators, took special care in protecting their children, protecting us, although the harsh realities of the outside world still remained. We maintained a delicate, oblivious nature that continued into adulthood. That’s what I blame. Every generation has a struggle of self, something that would’ve been labeled a ‘spiritual dilemma’ in days of old. Our generation has no spirit. We have no struggle. This is the dilemma. We’ve never been challenged or at least, whenever we’ve been challenged, someone else comes to our aid in miraculous fashion.
The real price of our narcissism is a willingness to allow everything to fall apart, because we think it will illicit a response from a yet to be determined messiah. We’ll let the world fall apart, because we expect a winged figure, not an angel, but superman, batman, whoever, to put all our fears to rest. The problem with this belief is that the rest of the world isn’t in on the joke. Our parents let us believe in monsters for too long, while the rest of the world already knew. We have a lot of catching up to do, but I don’t see it happening. We’re far too cynical. Most likely, we’ll let it all fall apart, because the comfort of our situation has yet to be compromised.
Overcoming this era in our lives, when we’ve been set to such a moderate standard, for which the challenge was never necessary is, in itself, the greatest challenge of our generation. We have plenty of goals, we just have to accept them. We have far more goals than we do limits. We have far more opportunities than we’d like to admit. We have far more chances for greatness than we do possibilities to hide when the nightmare finally asserts control.