We Were Never the Scintilla


Recently, in varying forums on recent events, I’ve come across something I thought was dead and buried in my young days. Something I even fell for until I became much older.

It’s the whole “after the mess you made of the world.”  The bizarre thing is that they were aiming it at people like me: we came after the boomers, and really our generation is known for what on the world stage?  Cutting our hair and going to work? Oh, yes, I know, we are a “Material” generation who doesn’t care about social causes.  The thing is, if we had, or those of us who did, would it do anything?  Would it have given the feckless whining babies the perfect world they feel they were entitled to at birth?

Look, perhaps there is something to the human psyche that we feel we should, each of us, be born into the garden of Eden.  I don’t know.  I remember being fourteen and yelling at my parents they should never have brought me into that messed up world.

If questioned on why the world was messed up, I would have poured fourth the usual cant of the school indoctrination.  We were going to run out of oil.  There would be famines.  And the world was polluted and overpopulated.  And there were so many poor people, and and and.

It wasn’t what made me resentful of course.  What actually ate me up is that I didn’t fit in very well with the other kids, and didn’t know why and how to fix it.

And of course, it was somehow, obscurely, my parents’ fault.

Yes, it is the subject of Billy Joel’s “We didn’t start the fire.”  I realized that as in my head I heard “every generation, blames the one before.”

But does every generation?  Did every generation?

I can go back to Greek and Latin writing and find the older generation bitching about the younger and asking what the world would be like in the kids’ hands, but I don’t remember this resentful bitching tone of “Well, we have to do this because you gave us a world that was a mess.”

It seems to me this expectation that the world will not be a mess, that it will be handed off shiny and new is a thing of the new era, of crazy secular religions like Marxism which don’t recognize humans are and have always been broken and that no one, including the first generation of humans ever got handed a perfect world: either in the sense of everyone being perfectly well provided for and happy, or in the sense of each individual human having the best shot at happiness and doing well possible.

Perhaps it started with the guilt after WWI and veterans who wanted to keep the horror away from the kids, and talked about what they had done as if they had some personal guilty.  Maybe it started before, but what sense does it make?

Coming across that vaccuous cri de coeur my first reaction was “I’ve been doing what I can to fight communism that would destroy the prosperity and security of the present world, you’re welcome.”

But I’m sure that’s some of the snowflakes’ problem “Why didn’t you make a perfect communist state for me?”  “Well, because I like you to have shoes that aren’t all size 47 for the left foot.  Again, you’re welcome.”

But the thing is, yeah, some generations change the world.  Even then it’s not every individual.  And some arguably change it for the best.  If the WWII generation hadn’t gone marching off to defeat Hitler at the risk of their own lives, we’d live in a very different world and  a much worse world.

Did they need to come home and inflict mid-century-modern and sitcoms on the innocents back home?  Who knows?  Probably inevitable.  As it was probably inevitable that they raised their kids to study war no more and inflicted on us the confused and drug addled culture of the sixties.

Which then led to the people who were born in the sixties coming into a world infected with somewhat-brain-cooked old hippies, a bunch of which raised the SJWs currently afflicting us.

Did I create the mess I’m handing to my kids?

Oh, likely.  I mean:

And I was round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain

Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game
I stuck around st. Petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the czar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain
I rode a tank
Held a generals rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
Ah, what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah
I watched with glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the gods they made
I shouted out,
Who killed the kennedys?
When after all
It was you and me
Let me please introduce myself
I’m a [wo]man of wealth and taste

Which is to say, “what, are you nuts? How old do you think I am?”

I wasn’t there in the Garden, for whatever the vision of the Garden you have, and do I look to you like an apple monger?

Sure, we didn’t start the fire, but it goes beyond that.  We aren’t even a scintilla in the mass of humanity.

Sure, we can do what we can with the gifts we’re given to make the world what we conceive to be a better place, but none of us not even famous dictators have that much power and influence.  After all the famous dictator’s role in history at large, is to make humanity realize that eugenic killings are bad ‘mkay?

If we improve our lot and make life a little easier for our kids we’ll have done better than could be expected.  Making things easier for everyone’s kids?  Some people manage it: people who develop new variatals of wheat or a new antibiotic.  For most of us it’s not a possibility.  We just tend our little lot, and if we’re luck, it will be for a blessing and not a curse.

Were kids today handed an unprecedentedly broken world?

I wouldn’t say so, on account of famines being rarer than they’ve ever bee in history.  On account of people having a boatload of options, what with travel and the internet, for learning, improving themselves, and finding some place they fit in.

Were they handed a world with some unusually nutty ideas rolling around it?  Sure.  Because prosperity gives people time to fixate on f*cking stupid sh*t.

But so what?  The world has always been broken.  Humanity has always been broken.  You wanted a perfect paradise?  Why?  What could you do in it but be the serpent.

You don’t like the world and your life?  Change it.  By which I mean, shut your yap, put your hand to the wheel and push.

Keep the good, eschew the bad, bind the wounds, and work.  Because all this yapping does nothing but let us know you’re unhappy.  We already know that.

We just think the cause of your unhappiness is internal.  You should  fix that. Which weirdly is best done by forgetting yourself, finding a job, working, trying to get better at it and contribute more.

Whenever I’m hired for everything my principle is “How can I be worthy of what they’re paying me?”

It’s not a bad principle for (just) living.  “How can I be worthy of this world, broken though it is, and make my life here an improvement on it for as many people as possible?”  Find that.  Do that.

And then the world will take care of itself.


166 thoughts on “We Were Never the Scintilla

  1. This is kind of tangential, but I’m remembering the passage in C.S. Lewis’s Perelandra (not my favorite of his books overall!) where the hero is struggling with a man possessed by a devil, and at one point the foe cries out, in Aramaic, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” And the hero realizes that this is not a quotation; it’s the actual words of God’s despair, which that devil heard more than nineteen hundred years before and stored away to gloat over for the rest of eternity. It’s maybe a little disturbing that Lewis could think of such a thing, but it’s brilliantly insightful.

    1. That is a freaking powerful bit– and it gets even deeper, because those words in Jesus’ mouth were a quote– Psalm 22.

      Which wraps it back around even more, because that gloating is a hollow victory; he was an Inkling, he’d know that back then (as now) they alluded to longer quotes with a smaller quote…and that one is a hum-dinger that would’ve resonated with those watching. (Check 22:18. Then read to the end…22:24 becomes a promise, which was then fulfilled in three days. Whoof.)

    2. I love that entire exchange. Its a shame (or a blessing I guess) that Perelandra will never make it to film. One of my all time favorite exchanges is from it.

      The Un-Man: Do you know WHO I AM?!
      Ransom: I know /what/ you are. Which one doesn’t matter.

      Also the portrayal that the architect of the Fall is a malicious /petty/ little bastard, instead of some grandiose tragic rebel or champion of human reason and liberation, was so different from what I’d read up to that point in fiction, that it still stands out to me.

  2. It’s about perspective. We created the EPA, and cleaned up the air and water. Now my generation thinks it’s turned into a bureaucratic political brute and needs to be trimmed back so it can focus on the important stuff. The younger generations seem to think it needs to gobble up even more power and control more things. While telling us we ruined the world.

    1. The EPA, having fixed what needed to be fixed, being a government
      agency, needs something, ANYTHING, to keep their jobs and get more people employed to increase/upgrade the salaries of those in and near the top of the pyramid.
      We need to amputate it down to size, or kill it.

  3. Look, perhaps there is something to the human psyche that we feel we should, each of us, be born into the garden of Eden.

    Perhaps the greatest of the great myths — the ones that underpin the rest of the Christian-Enlightenment ethos — is the myth of the Garden of Eden and the Fall. You could make a good case that we yearn for Eden at an unconscious level. But of course, we’re a fallible, easily misled race that thinks with its wishes more often than with its reason. Eden is unavailable to us in this life. Learning that particular aspect of what Thomas Sowell calls “the tragic vision” is a critical part, perhaps the critical part, of the maturation process…and I hardly need to say how badly that process has been corrupted in recent decades.

    1. The thing is, the garden was created with a backdoor that let in the being who led the rebellion in heaven to whisper into A & E’s ears.

      That is, the intrinsic design of the place included a free will test.

      And once sufficient cognition and free will manifested in the upright hominids, they were shown the door and locked out of the nursery.

      The Eden story is presented as a failure to live up to divine instructions. I see it as a success story – pass the tree test and you get to leave.

      And looking back to the lyrics above, that presents Lucifer’s role in a different light indeed.

      1. Or, fail the tree test and you have to leave. Pass, and you get more responsibility, more confidences from the Boss–and together you make the garden bigger. Someday it’ll include the whole world.

        They failed. Lucifer is a villain. Sorry.

        1. Either way, Lucifer was a liar. “You shall not surely die”
          indeed. Decisions have consequences, real ones; what you don’t know can hurt you, and do you think you can fix what you broke?

          1. Well, she didn’t die right after eating it, so the lightbringer-serpent’s “Told ya so” was valid.

            But Eve did, in the end, die.

            Not having eaten any eternal life fruit during her time in the garden, it is arguable whether she would have died there anyway (‘not knowing death’ being arguably not aware of death rather than not subject to it – and why would there be a tree of eternal life there if they already had eternal life?). But after the knowledge-fruit, she certainly knew what death was.

            In the end, it all comes down to what the meaning of “is” is.

            1. I’ve heard interpretations that it all depends on which trees they ate first. Before them, their mortal/immortal status had not collapsed into one.

            2. Actually, if it comes to that, we don’t know that they *hadn’t* eaten from the Tree of Life. It wasn’t forbidden.

              The story would make just as much sense if God drove them from the Garden so they couldn’t *continue* to eat from the Tree of Life. It was an endlessly prolonged Fall that He feared for them, not immortality as such. If the Tree had been sustaining them, cutting them off from it would still be necessary and sufficient for His purpose.

      2. I am amused by the idea that many stories have the bit where ‘The Knowledge’ has a warning about taking it in will result in Bad Things… so Do Not Read Further…. and Genesis is that very warning.

        Note: Amused. Not take seriously.

        Of course there are those times one must simply look, step back, shrug, and leave people to be themselves, while perhaps quietly muttering, “Humans, go figure.”

      3. The whole Garden thing looked like obedience propaganda to me.

        “I aim to misbehave.”

        1. Speaking as a game master, I look at putting the player characters in a situation where there’s a big button marked “DON’T TOUCH THIS” as a pretty effective way to get them to push the button and start the campaign. And even more so if, when they don’t touch it right away, I arrange for an NPC to come in and egg them on (after all, who created the serpent, and let him into the garden, in full knowledge of what the serpent intended to do?).

          1. Keeping in mind that we don’t know how literal the situation is, I see it as something like this:
            if you give them a choice, they’ve got to actually be able to choose. Not “if they knew it was there and said they wanted it, I’d let them do it” type choices.

            If you can’t really choose, then not choosing the wrong thing is meaningless.

            Not being God, I have no idea how it would’ve worked out if they’d made the right choice in Eden– but as it is, we’ve each got a choice to make. Become something that can be with Him, or don’t. The idea that the fair option is to force everybody to be the kind of person that can be with Him is… abhorrent.

            1. I understand that argument, and I can see how a theological case can be made for its being coherent. But I’m not sure it’s orthodox. There’s a passage in one of the epistles where Paul asks, rhetorically, “But why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” And his answer isn’t “he let you choose,” or “he gave you the power to resist his will.” It’s more like, “he created you, and he can do what he wants with you.” That sounds a lot like a rejection of “free will” arguments.

              1. Romans 9:19?
                That’s in response to people complaining about things not being their way– in modern examples, it’d be “How dare God get mad at me, if He didn’t want me to do this, He shouldn’t have made it possible!”

                As much as it has to do with free will, it’s about the complainer’s free will not ruling out anybody else’s free will; it’s got more to do with mercy, and that we aren’t owed it, it’s a gift– and that one who has been given a gift doesn’t have a just right to complain about the gift someone else got.

                1. That’s the one. And the verses that follow: “Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for a noble purpose and another for an ignoble one? What if God, wishing to show his wrath and make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction? This was to make known the riches of his glory to the vessels of mercy, which he has prepared previously for glory, namely, us whom he has called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles.”

                  In other words, the potter can make one lump of clay into a beautiful urn and another into a chamber pot, and the chamber pot doesn’t to complain about being pissed into, because it has no rights against the potter. There is no suggestion there that the clay chose to be a chamber pot. It was entirely the potter’s decision. He made it as he chose, for purposes of his own. Free will seems to have come in later.

                  1. Ah, but your free will doesn’t mean that I don’t get to have free will, too– as the the section is titled, God’s free choice.

                    He got to choose to give the gift of life, you get to choose what to make of that gift– it’s not just to complain “but the other guy got a bigger gift!”

                    A sort of reiteration of the point in the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard.


                    Considering Paul’s background, that had to be a really painful point for him. He was really proud of being one of the Chosen People…and then Himself goes and invites in all those guys? AND his own people turn it down? Ouch.

                    1. But the passage I quoted doesn’t seem to be addressed to people who are saved in a less glorious way, or who are saved after leading lives with relatively little sin, and who might envy the people who sinned big time and still got saved, or who repented at the very last minute and were accepted, like the good thief who gets into heaven. It seems to be addressing the imagined complaint of people like the bad thief, who aren’t going to be saved at all, that God made them, and made them sinners, so why are they being punished for a matter in which they had no choice?

                      And Paul doesn’t tell them for a moment that it waa their own choice, or that they could resist God. He says that God is the potter, and they’re clay in the potter’s hands, and God can do as he pleases, including making some people to be saved and some to be damned. Really, it’s about as explicit a reject of free will as you could ask for.

                    2. In context, it seems to be people complaining because someone else got a piece of cake that they think is so much better than their own.

                      I don’t see anything about damnation at all, just rejection of the idea that they get to dictate what gifts they’ll be given– amusingly enough, wraps right around to what Sarah’s talking about where people get pissy about not having everything their own way. Even when they have no concept of what went into giving them the gifts they do have.

                    3. ,addressed to people who are saved in a less glorious way

                      Just read this again, and….what on EARTH is a “less glorious way” of being saved? One doesn’t, obviously, have to believe it– but the whole “follow me and you shall not die, but live in glory” is pretty dang equal. These folks are complaining that when they sin, IE, don’t follow Him, they get in trouble. Even if (insert kid whine here) it’s not faaaaaiiiiir, God made me this way, why is it so haaaaard?

                    4. I don’t see how you get anything about lesser gifts out of “the vessels of wrath made for destruction” or even out of “an ignoble purpose.” The phrase “the wrath of God” is not often used to describe a blessing that one would wish for—except, perhaps, to see it turned on one’s enemies.

                      And in any case, Paul is having people ask why God finds fault with people, when whatever they do is according to his irresistible will (“for who can resist his will?”), and he’s not telling them, “Yes, you can resist his will.” He’s effectively saying, “God can do what he pleases,” kind of in the spirit of God saying to Job “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” That’s a point where a lot of present-day Christians would go right to free will—and Paul doesn’t even seem to think of it.

                    5. If you click through to the footnote, it points at a verse in Wisdom that can be boiled down to fine china being held to a higher standard than ye olde random clay pot– which loops back around to the ‘to he whom much is given, much is expected’ thing. Which fits tightly with the showing much patience with the lesser vessels…but also points out it *IS* mercy, a gift, thus not infinite.


                      I am still not seeing where on earth God having free will interferes with you having free will; modern Christians go in a different direction because they’re in a culture with literally thousands of years of Christian influence in it, while Paul was…not.

                    6. Well, you know, within the intellectual structure of Christian doctrine, as I understand it (bear in mind that I’ve read about it, but never believed in it), it’s not God’s free will that’s the issue. It’s not even his omnipotence, though if there were an omnipotent being, anything that happened could happen only because he chose to permit it. But the real issue (as I saw it explained by Antony Flew, who based it on Thomas Aquinas’s writings) is that God is the creator.

                      “Create” here does not mean simply that God set the universe going in the beginning, whether by decreeing the first evening and morning, or by the Big Bang. That model, where God starts everything and then it carries on of itself, is common in eighteenth-century deists, but it wasn’t part of Thomistic theology. Aquinas says that we can know through natural reason that God is the creator, but not that the universe had a beginning, which we know only through revelation. What “creator” means here is not the initial cause, but the sustaining cause. If God doesn’t actively will the continued being of the universe at every instant, the universe goes away, in the twinkling of an eye, the way these words would vanish if your computer stopped functioning. The idea that a human being can have free will with respect to God is like the idea that the images on your monitor can have free will with respect to your CPU.

                      Now, of course, I can tell a story about human beings having free will in the same way that a novelist’s characters can have free will. But really, you know, Sarah could make Athena Hera Sinistra do anything whatever, even blowing up the Earth or strangling her baby in its cradle; she chooses not to do so because that would be out of character—but Athena’s character comes from Sarah in the first place, right? And I kind of think even that is an anthropomorphization of God; a human author has a subconscious that gets to influence the actions of characters, but an omniscient God can’t have a subconscious. But I don’t think I’ve read a theological discussion that makes those particular points, so this last paragraph is purely my own speculation.

                    7. That looks like a metaphor issue… basically, since WE can’t create someone with true free will, nobody else can, either. (Some definition issues, too– as Sarah as pointed out, if she makes a character do something that they ‘can’t’ do, it’s not them anymore; it’s way too early for that….)

                      It’s very human to sit and declare “oh, I had no choice, situation you know”…but even in the Middle East, they know that’s BS, or they wouldn’t do retribution; if they know it, we can be pretty sure that it was recognized in the ’40s to 70s, even if they didn’t use the phrase.

                      The thing he’s arguing against is basically a mechanical fairness….though one where they’re complaining their lives haven’t been perfect, so how DARE God hold them responsible for their choices.

          2. I presume God to be wise enough and smart enough to have something for either alternative. We don’t know what was down the path not taken, but I suspect that we got was the perilous high adventure version.

        2. One of the reasons why I couldn’t stay a Christian.

          I like the idea that maybe Earth is a school. One where we can learn through experiencing things and their consequences. Which would make some sense for not knowing it’s a school because if we knew we would behave differently.

          Who knows. That is not among the things I believe, just hope for because that to me would make sense of a lot of things. Especially if we assume that those NDE stories of a life review and being made to feel everything you caused others to feel, both good and bad, were true.

          But then I don’t really believe in the Devil. I believe in an all powerful God who knows what he is doing and that everything is advancing according to his plans.

          1. I hold that there are two different entities that are often smudged to be the Devil.

            There’s one who is the one who rebelled against God, and wants the downfall of humanity, and does so with malice.

            Then there’s the figure that was the loyal follower of God, an angel/being assigned to test God’s children (one example being the testing of Job). Sometimes smudged or associated to be the angel Samael.

            A figure known as “the satan” first appears in the Tanakh as a heavenly prosecutor, a member of the sons of God subordinate to Yahweh, who prosecutes the nation of Judah in the heavenly court and tests the loyalty of Yahweh’s followers by forcing them to suffer.

            On Samael:

            In Judaism, Samael is said to be the angel of death, and sometimes the name of Satan is accorded to him. While Satan describes his function as an accuser, Samael is considered to be his proper name. While Michael defends Israel’s actions, Samael tempts people to sin.[7] He is also depicted as the angel of death and one of the seven archangels, the ruler over the Fifth Heaven and commander of two million angels such as the chief of other Satans. Yalkut Shimoni (I, 110) presents Samael as Esau’s guardian angel.[2]

            According to The Ascension of Moses[8] Samael is also mentioned as being in 7th Heaven:

            In the last heaven Moses saw two angels, each five hundred parasangs in height, forged out of chains of black fire and red fire, the angels Af, “Anger,” and Hemah, “Wrath,” whom God created at the beginning of the world, to execute His will. Moses was disquieted when he looked upon them, but Metatron embraced him, and said, “Moses, Moses, thou favorite of God, fear not, and be not terrified,” and Moses became calm. There was another angel in the seventh heaven, different in appearance from all the others, and of frightful mien. His height was so great, it would have taken five hundred years to cover a distance equal to it, and from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet he was studded with glaring eyes. “This one,” said Metatron, addressing Moses, “is Samael, who takes the soul away from man.” “Whither goes he now?” asked Moses, and Metatron replied, “To fetch the soul of Job the pious.” Thereupon Moses prayed to God in these words, “O may it be Thy will, my God and the God of my fathers, not to let me fall into the hands of this angel.”

            1. Is that war in heaven mentioned anywhere else in the Bible but in John’s revelation, which seems to refer to something yet to happen in his time, and may be more of a symbolic representation of something like Rome’s fall rather than anything supernatural?

              1. I do know that there seems to be conflicting opinions nowadays by at least some theologians about it, although it has been some time since I last read about that.

                1. I guess I have somewhat based my disbelief in Devil – at least as the rebel angel who is still waging a war against heaven – to my readings of that idea that there actually seems to be rather scant evidence for it in the Bible. I don’t know if it comes up anywhere else, like maybe some Jewish texts, but since Bible is supposed to be the, well, Bible… (which I did read through, several times, both as a kid and again when I started to have problems with the idea of remaining a Christian. Although it has been years now so I don’t necessarily remember all that well anymore. I may have skipped a bit with the “begat” lists).

                  And in most cases where the “adversary” is mentioned there I don’t remember him exactly giving the impression of a being capable of directly fighting God. Could even be something like maybe an undercover cop or something who tries to make those he suspects have criminal tendencies to act on them so that everybody, especially his boss, could see it. Sneaky fellow who should not be listened to, though. 🙂

                  1. . I don’t know if it comes up anywhere else, like maybe some Jewish texts, but since Bible is supposed to be the, well, Bible…

                    Getting close to a dangerous area, so I’ll point this out and drop it- the idea that the Bible has everything you’d ever need to know (religiously) as a Christian is a belief only held by some Christian groups.


                    And in most cases where the “adversary” is mentioned there I don’t remember him exactly giving the impression of a being capable of directly fighting God.

                    I can’t remember the word for the idea that the Devil is anything like equal to God, able to fight Him, but it’s more of a dramatic thing than most Christian theology. He’s a trouble-maker, not someone who can overthrow the Throne.

                    Which, of course, makes for really cruddy drama.

                    1. I had a good pastor who explained that the bible was limited in it’s purpose to showing us how to be saved and that trying to insist that it explained anything else including everything about God was an error.

                      He was also very big on condemning the practice of putting words into God’s mouth that weren’t actually there.

      4. There are a lot of hidden nuances to the Eden story.

        Firstly, we have the method that the snake used on Eve. See, Adam was given pretty safe instructions. “Don’t eat from this tree.” In his passionate desire to make it clear to Eve just how dangerous it was, he added on ‘don’t look at it, don’t touch it, etc.’ And when the Serpent came along, he used the fact that she could look at it and touch it, as reason for why eating from it was ok (implying it was all bogus because of Adam’s overly scrupulous approach).

        Secondly, there’s the implication that what came from the Tree was man deciding that he had the power to discern Good and Evil, meaning its less ‘true knowledge’ and more ‘subjectivity.’ The idea of ‘my truth’ as opposed to The Truth. Which ties in further with why the ‘New Adam’ would direct us to following God’s will so completely (to the point of crucifixion) as a means of rectifying the issue.

        Interestingly, being cast out of the garden also seems to carry an implication that man couldn’t survive there after the fall. Likely meant to mirror how Man is disconnected from his primacy over Nature by rejecting God’s primacy over him. Relatively soon after, God permits man to eat meat and seems to start giving survival tips on ‘Earth 2.0, the messed up edition.’

        1. And maybe the snake is more of a symbol for the fault in their own characters, due to having given free will, than any outside tempter.

        1. Actually, it seems that the point is that, no matter how Adam and Eve messed up, they still had the same assigned jobs. It just made things more difficult.

          Eden was a walled garden, a paradise. Whose garden was it? The garden of God, close to Heaven and God’s cosmic House/Temple there. Lots of mountain symbolism, tying into the artificial mountains of ziggurats or the Tower of Babel.

          Outside the garden was a chaotic wilderness. Adam was assigned to “care for and keep” the garden (which was also the wording used for priests in the Jerusalem Temple), but he and Eve were also assigned to go forth, multiply, and tame the rest of the earth. (Thereby making it also a holy part of the Temple’s garden.)

          So they were going to go out anyway. But they didn’t have to be banned from Eden, too. There are lots of pivot moments in the Bible, and some people do stay faithful. They didn’t so choose.

          So yeah, lots of subtleties.

  4. > Were kids today handed an unprecedentedly broken world?

    Take away their phones and see…

  5. Every generation dedicates itself to avoiding the mistakes they saw their parents made – which is why they recapitulate the mistakes of their grandparents.

  6. I doubt the “mess you made of this world” theme is either new or unique – otherwise we wouldn’t have the entire Garden of Eden story in the Bible. Nostalgia seems to be a part of the human condition. We had something great in the past, but we $#@! up and lost it – to bad choices, to enemies, to friends, to time. If you go back to whatever period you define as “the good old days” of course and look at source materials from that time, I think you will find that age typically defined a prior time as “the good old days” (i.e. pre-civil war America yearned for life as it was back when the Constitution was new). The Renaissance looked back to ancient Greece and Rome.

    That being said, I also think this links into the myth of the noble savage who was peaceful, socially egalitarian, living in harmony with nature and each other (i.e. a communitarian past that worked). If this myth were true, than somebody !$@# up in the interim as our world doesn’t resemble that of those myths.

    1. Before the 19th century, the Golden Age was always in the past, the age of heroes to the Greeks, the Roman Empire to the Middle Ages and so on. The 19th century invented The Rapture, and The Worker’s Paradise. In the indigestible words of Will-I-Am FBuckley,
      “Don’t immanetize the eschaton!”

      1. WFB s words are not digestible. They are simply elite. He actually spoke and thought that way.

  7. We did have something great in the past. Social institutions that combined with new knowledge and new technologies, let us create the greatest nation on the planet to date. A large part of conservativism is keeping and preserving those things that worked in the past. What I see nowadays is our children and young adults are throwing the baby out with the bathwater; rejecting everything we’ve done successfully in the past. The unfortunate part is the elitists in our bastions of higher education are the ones pushing the message to overthrow the entire past, with an eye to putting themselves in the drivers’ seat after we’re gone, or put in our place.

    1. This is part of the problem of progressivism. It assumes that, since we’re in a better spot today, that there must be even better in the future. Constantly a forward progress. It’s part of the insidious teaching of evolution.

      Life gets much easier when you see the human portion of the equation as not having evolved much at all over the millennia/eons. And the technology is not likely to have a magical result of changing that. (You know, like Trekonomics would assume.)

      Why overthrow the past, though, if the “arc of history is forward”? Because history shows us, over and over again, that any “progress” in human nature is more likely to be a blip than any sort of “arc”.

  8. I graduated in 1970, theoretically first year of the 70s, but in reality the last year of the 60s. Most of us thought we were so wise, but almost all of us grew up.
    We were proud of opposing the Vietnam war. But the consequences of that opposition came in the 80s as ‘boat people.’ What a mess!

  9. “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” is matter of attitude and/or perspective.

    In many ways, today is MUCH better than yesterday (any rivers catch fire of late?) but in some… (#Resistance? Really? Tell me about Ohm’s Law and I might consider begin starting to think about caring what you have to say.) Overall.. net gain. But it’s still a struggle – and it is for everyone. The “life on the easy settings” thing? Nonsense. *EVERYBODY* has problems. The strange thing is how some with the most advantages.. throw them away. The Rich Guy’s kid… who kills or mangles himself in an idiotic game ‘chicken’ and so forth. Evidently not engaged enough to find life sufficiently exciting, has to go make it moreso (worse). An even *slightly* more sane person would perhaps at least join an armed service and have the added excitement at least potentially do some good.

  10. I think I could make an argument that the world is not broken enough for this generation. They’ve had it so easy and there were so few major things left to be resolved that it has allowed them to focus on the trivial and think it significant.

    Or, with the lack of mountains, they are attempting to scale the daunting heights of mole-hills and find it satisfying.

    1. Once remarked to Older Fellow that I had wondered about someone of his age/era… born to the farm.. and becoming aware of The World just as the Great Depression hit… then dealing with World War (Two!) and after that, yeah the world is largely in a mess… except for North America… where there is the promise of atomic power, rockets (to space?), and antibiotics (drugs… that actually cure!) and the 1950’s couldn’t HELP but but be optimistic after that. “You got it.” he said.

      But much the of the rest of the world… socialist/communist/ or “just” blasted to bits… had a harder time – for a while.

      I didn’t have anything near as nasty as all that, but still I have commented that microaggressions do not impress someone once concerned about the megatons aimed their way.

      1. I drive I-80 through WY, NE, and IA a few times a year. Every single time I make that drive I can’t help but thinking what it must have been like to make that trip in a wagon. Not only in a wagon, but wondering if you were going to be attacked by outlaws, indians, or whether Mother Nature was going to screw you with storms (snow, rain). All of this with probably minimal medical support. “Is there a Doctor in the house?” “Nope, he’s a couple weeks away even if we use the fastest horse we have”.

        I see both ‘microagressions’ and ‘triggers’ as proof of the psychological defense mechanism projection. The problem isn’t with the statement. It’s with the person experiencing the problem.

        I agree. I still remember assuming that war in some form with the USSR was inevitable. The training videos they showed us in the Army were going on about how much harder the Soviets trained than we did to try and motivate us.

      2. Having babysat those megatons, and those megatons later removed and most of the missile sites blown up or turned into museums, I’d say we’ve done pretty well.

    2. I agree except that it’s often people my own age who are sifting the world for horrors to take up arms against. Granted, it’s usually people who were raised in more comfort than the average, even in America.

      Okay, maybe older ladies aren’t complaining (and I’m NOT making this up) that it’s oppressive and awful that the patriarchy has trained us to think that menstruation is gross. Maybe a person does have to be younger to be that un-self-aware. I donno.

      But older people are often just as ridiculous in what they choose to hold up as the latest outrage that everyone is supposed to be horrified by.

      “OMG a white woman made a taco!”

      1. At some level I think it is completely ordinary for the younger generation to want to stamp out injustices and try to work to make the world more ideal.

        What I’m personally struggling with is the number of this generation that see socialism as something to strive for and as something that will make the world better instead of being able to see that it’ll turn it into a real-life horror show.

        1. It’s understandable that young people haven’t thought it through. Who could object to fairness and sharing? Wouldn’t the world be a better place?

          The generation that pisses me off so badly is the one that eggs them on. Every “socialist” state has it’s administrative class, by whatever name, that prove that some animals are more equal than others.

          And anyone who *has* spent more than a moment thinking about it ought to realize that no, there is no guarantee that will be *them*.

          1. It is understandable as long as you don’t think it through to the logical conclusion. “We want free college!” The response should be “Who are you going to enslave, the college/university and staff or other people to PAY the staff?”.

            Once everybody is given a ‘living wage’, healthcare, and free college (whether or not the degree has any practical application or value), where is the incentive to work? If I’m doing network engineering and working 70-80 hours a week and my lifestyle is the same is Joe and Mary Lazyass down the street who sleep all day and watch TV, what kind of idiot would I have to be to keep working those hours?

            Totally agree, especially since that older generation has seen socialism fail over and over and the resulting misery.

            1. Yes. The idea that people with all of their needs and wants met would (as Picard would say) work to improve themselves is downright absurd. We do, however, work even while experiencing a life of comfort in order to experience MORE comfort.

              1. I think I’m working at this point more for security. (Well, the security of that comfort you mentioned). A future where everything is given is a lot more likely to look like the humans in Wall-E than the ones in Star Trek.

                There are plenty of examples out there of this already in play. How many people set the goal of “I’m going to do X, Y, or Z” and then never actually do anything to move toward that goal? (I admit, I’m guilty of that at times as well).

                1. There are highly motivated go-getters in the world. I’ve only met a few of them. I’m incredibly glad they exist and do not begrudge them their success nor wealth. My life is better because THEY aren’t lazy.

                  I’m lazy.

                  Most people are.

                  1. As someone once put it, “all progress depends on the lazy man, who seeks the most efficient way to do the least work.”

      2. Um…yeah. I’ve seen those ladies. And ladies, trust me, it isn’t just the patriarchy who want you to put on a freakin’ tampon.

      3. Maybe part of it is that they want horrors to fight, not problems to try to make better?

        One you fight, it’s over, win or lose; the other…well, there’s a reason that the struggle of doing the dishes, laundry and cooking doesn’t get much glory.

        1. Maybe. At the same time now that I’m older I appreciate beating those little struggles.

          Can I personally bring about world peace and prosperity? Nope! At the end of the week can I have my laundry folded, my counters clean, my lunches for the week prepped, and my floors and bathroom scrubbed? Yes I can!

          It’s not ‘glamorous’ or ‘sexy’ and 99.9999% of the time no one else on the planet will even know or care that I did these things. I do know and I can take satisfaction in knowing that I’m giving myself a leg up on being productive during the next week.

          1. Part of growing up is figuring out that just because you can’t win doesn’t mean you can’t improve things– or at least make it not get worse.

            Lots to be said for preventing a problem from getting out of hand.

          2. Incidentally, this is part of why I have an urge to flip off those who flip out about folks talking about “adulting.”

            The kids yacking about “adulting” are at least recognizing it’s something that needs to be done, and that ADULTS do. As opposed to attacking windmills with screamed insults.

            1. Unless you’re really tall (or the windmill really short) there isn’t much chance of getting hit by the windmill. Sure, it’s totally futile and the windmill will just keep on spinning as long as there is wind.

              But, you get to go home feeling virtuous! You showed that mean old windmill who the boss is. 🙂 Virtually no risk and you get your daily dopamine fix.

                1. How are they going to keep that dopamine flowing if they destroy the windmill?

                  Once the first one gets destroyed the rest will get upgraded defenses. It’s just a matter of whether or not you really want to sacrifice that first one or make a preemptive strike and face potential legal repercussions.

                  1. Problem being that only makes sense if you KNOW, and will plan around, the attacks being just a way to make yourself feel important.

                    1. Entering dangerous territory. I do risk management/analysis for a large portion of my current position 🙂

                    2. It wasn’t so much Moldilock’s planning as the set of assumptions she based on her plans on.

                      Turns out that an ordinary 100 lb girl is not Buffy and is not going to win a fist fight with a 230 lb man. It’s not like anyone could have seen the most probable outcome of that encounter in advance. . .

                    3. *IF* she had been thinking, she would’ve seen it, too; they don’t talk it, but they DO realize that bigger guys can win– but she wasn’t planning. She was story telling.

                      The story was that you fight bad guys and plot armor defends you and you win, then go brag about how awesome you are.

                      If she had been thinking, oh, “bikers,” or “farmers” or something else that was not either a victim or a villain, she wouldn’t have done itl that’s the power of calling them Nazis. The Nazis are already defeated.

                    4. I was actually curious about the ‘man vs woman’ fights and did a little research on the topic. In a man vs woman fight the woman would need about 20 lb weigh advantage over the man to make the fight ‘fair’. (Partly due to woman typically having a higher base body fat). Since it was internet research and no references or anything were provided, YMMV.

                      Our younger generation of progressives don’t really seem to have that firm of a grasp on reality and consequences.

                      I’d actually forgotten about Moldylocks. I still think my favorite protestor getting his just desserts has to be Pepperballs from Phoenix (I think it was Phoenix).

                    5. IIRC, Moldilock tried for unfair. Just that an illegal weapon didn’t manage to be unfair enough.

                    6. She was going for an unfair advantage over someone who wouldn’t fight back– probable goal being the whole one-hit and they’re down, very dramatic.

                      Which is part of why the vicious twit didn’t get much sympathy.

            2. It’s not the “I’m adulting” types that are the trouble, but those who keep on saying they cannot be ‘adulting’ – once in a while, sure. We all need breaks. A break does not last a lifetime, unless said lifetime is mighty short.

              1. You post your “No can adult today. Do not make me adult.” Then you roll out of bed, get the screaming baby out of her crib, change her diaper, get her bottle, and check on her brother so he knows it’s not time to get up yet. Or more likely. You post the meme while the baby is in your lap chugging on the bottle and you’re glaring at the ‘3:00 am’ on your phone. Mental grumpiness somewhat worked out of the system, attention returns to baby. Who may or may not get tickled before going back to bed. Because… baby giggles.

        2. I think it was pj o’rourke essay but I remember reading quip about how everyone one wants to save the world but no one wants to help mom do the dishes.

      4. “OMG a white woman made a taco!”
        What’s unspeakably horrifying is that she was trying to make a profit from doing it!
        And another one wore a Chinese Dress to a Prom! What doom and dreadful calamity await us all!

        Chicken Little, call your office immediately!!

    3. These young whiny nuisances are spoiled and were not spanked enough as children. They have no clue of how much easier life is now as compared with life was a century ago. They are not adults. Everyone who is a adult knows that the world is far from perfect. This is reality. You do the best you can, work at your job, you take care of your family. Utopia is from the Greek meaning nowhere. There is no perfect in this world. But there can be contentment in a life that is well lived. I like to think of lesson learned from “It’s a Wonderful Life”; Life can be hard, but if you work at it and have some luck, your life can turn out better than you thought.

      1. And, really, one of the lessons from It’s A Wonderful Life is that all that hard work, in little bits and pieces, can make *other* people’s lives better. That’s a really great thing in this old world.

        1. And that it ripples. Your hard work enables a little bit of good for person A, whose hard work enables for person B…. and so on down the line. You got hints at the ripple effect with the brother, but you could see parts of it with other characters as well. The guy who worked at the Italian man’s Bar, who was a cheerful and happy man in George’s real time line… and bitter and surly in the other even though HE was the one who owned the bar.

  11. “Coming across that vaccuous cri de coeur my first reaction was “I’ve been doing what I can to fight communism that would destroy the prosperity and security of the present world, you’re welcome.””

    Well, I know that I appreciate it!

  12. There are famines aplenty in the world, and they always seem to happen in those places that have communist/socialist paradise in progress. We used to be able to give them cheap foodstuffs to help but someone decided we need to burn food in gasoline to artificially raise the price on grains and as a side effect shorten the life of cheap transportation.
    Then we have social unrest (pound me too, BLM, etc)
    It must be all our fault, because we properly thinking folk won’t bend to the demands of the leftoids out there. The leftoid caused problems are what the leftoid rails against and blames you or I for.
    It’s our fault all those big Dem donors and media agents are sexist sacks of excrement. Or so they tell me. Funny, the few “rightwinger” people they tried #metoo on said “got proof? Call the police” and you never hear about it again, whereas it seems weekly some dem stalwart is found to be a sexist, racist rat bastard (apologies to rat bastards)
    Somehow it is our fault large police departments in leftoid dominated cities are “racist” and to prove it they will refuse to go to the Whitehouse and protest during the national anthem . . . because somehow it must be our fault NYC, Phillidelphia, New Orleans, St Louis, Oakland, et al, that ain’t got many “rightwingers” left in them, and have not had real Republicans in office for years, decades, or some almost a century are “at war” with blacks. We all know if the rest of us just would allow them to run the nation as a whole like they have Detroit, Compton, and New Orleans, the whole mess would just go away, don’tchaknow.

  13. David Hume – ‘The humour of blaming the present, and admiring the past, is strongly rooted in human nature, and has an influence, even on persons endued with the profoundest judgment and most extensive learning.’

  14. Frankly, I think quiet a few other generations have a much better gripe against the earlier ones. To give just one example:

    Mary to Henry VIII: “So I wasn’t good enough for you? In fact, not only was I not good enough for you, you had to break the entire religious system on this island in order to get your own way, and now my half-siblings and I are going to spend the next several generations cleaning up? Thanks a lot.”

    1. But when you’ve been taught that herstory is the endless struggle of good (socialism) against evil (free choice) you become the hero of your own story. And the hero must have the most difficult task ever.

      There are reasons history is made as full as possible and as rote as possible.

  15. I don’t know about perfection, but I know about five ten years back I got really dang tired of the constant whining about “kids these days” totally “destroying the world” while ignoring that the world was in roughly the same condition it had been when passed down, rosy memories (which strongly contrasted to what they said at the time) not withstanding…..

    1. keep in mind they were and probably still are convinced there was runaway gore-ball wormening…

      1. Yeah.

        The theme seems to be “they’re destroying the world because they won’t follow along with what I say to do!”

  16. “The closer men came to perfecting for themselves a paradise, the more impatient they seemed to become with it, and with themselves as well. They made a garden of pleasure, and became progressively more miserable with it as it grew in richness and power and beauty; for them, perhaps, it was easier for them to see that something was missing in the garden, some tree or shrub that would not grow. When the world was in darkness and wretchedness, it could believe in perfection and yearn for it. But when the world became bright with reason and riches, it began to sense the narrowness of the needle’s eye, and that rankled for a world no longer willing to believe or yearn. Well, they were going to destroy it again, were they ‘ this garden Earth, civilized and knowing, to be torn apart again that man might hope again in wretched darkness.”

    –Walter Miller, A Canticle for Leibowitz

  17. I keep reading “scintilla” as “scylla” and expecting an article against the false compromise of meeting halfway when the two options *aren’t* equally opposite.

    1. Scylla ended up with pretty bad arthritis and eventually had to retire to the monsters guild retirement home, so now Charybdis rests under a fig tree at her usual spot, a bowshot from the shoreline, and gazes wistfully out across the Strait of Messina at the passing cruise ships.

  18. “Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.”

    ― Marcus Tullius Cicero

    The more things change… XD

    1. Yeah, but almost nobody actually *finishes* a book. And I bet that held true in his day as well…

    2. Meh. I don’t think times are bad. I just find this whole idea I also once had that somehow the previous generation “created a mess” silly.

  19. The Europeans Youth don’t have to worry about the good life and no challenges. All they have to do is wait a few years and they will face the wall. Submit or Die. I hope they will FIGHT but there is no indications that they will. Europe may disappear, its history gone, its buildings, art, destroyed just like the Buda’s in Afghanistan. Their languages outlawed. History will be rewritten so that Charles Martel was beaten at Tours and Islam has ruled ever since.

    The West is failing and the young see no reason to try and reverse that, in fact far to many are ready to see it die. They have NO IDEA what will replace it. When they do it will be far to late.

    We old ones will rage against the dying of the light but many of the young today will just say “COOL!”.

      1. Having been to Yellowstone many, many times over the years (it’s a day trip) before and after the fires, I find that an extraordinarily hopeful metaphor.

          1. I went to Yellowstone a number of years back, in celebration of finally completing my college degree. And then I came home and went back to work in my cubicle, and wished I was back at Yellowstone. Heck, I’d rather be at Yellowstone right now.

    1. I think it will be sad if the Vatican’s art and library are destroyed. There are treasures there beyond estimation. But it won’t be the first time for such destruction. And it won’t be as if the church hasn’t invited it.

      1. Of the entire mass of Europe, I care about a spot seven by four feet: my grandmother’s grave. The rest I don’t care about, except for offering a home to any fleeing family.

      2. Think of the Louvre as a pile of ash.
        All the books, museums, Art, Cathedrals, gone as if they had never been.
        Music, etc. down the memory hole.
        Yes, the Muslims would do that.

  20. It’s not a bad principle for (just) living. “How can I be worthy of this world, broken though it is, and make my life here an improvement on it for as many people as possible?” Find that. Do that.

    Before I read the other comments – It seems to me that the Social Justice Warrior think that this is what they are doing. Except, of course, they assume that they are more than worthy of this world, and want to know what they can do to make the world worthy of them.

    1. Honestly the difference is only between, “What can I do to make my life here an improvement on the world for as many people as possible?” and “What can I force other people to do by using the force inherent in government to make an improvement on the world for as many people as possible.”

      An individual has more chance of “being the difference they want to see in the world” but they also can do only limited damage if they get it wrong.

      Government is, then, a force multiplier, to *make* people moral and good.

      But it’s all inherently arrogant and authoritarian. I mean, if we were going to have government force a morality on us, we had a very nice morality for a while now. Why not just use that one?

  21. This reminds of Tanith Lee’s Black Unicorn where Tanaquil visits a more perfect world and her every step therein causes damage. Of course, she and others visit a worse world in the sequel and their steps bring new growth and life. It’s something that has stuck with me.

  22. A good deal of it, Sarah, is that the dumb shits were never given any sense of history. Just think about all the things they “know” which simply are not true, all the causes and effects they’re utterly blind to.

    1. YES. That. They also view history as a fight between good guys (them) and bad guys (everyone else.) Instead of understanding the fatally flawed glorious things humans are, which means us getting things right is fairly amazing, and just because it seems right to them, it doesn’t mean it is.

  23. It really hit me profoundly when someone on spacebabies insisted that I could not have taken a 50% overload for my last two years of law school because there was an ABA rule against it. Indeed, there is such a rule. It dates from 1996. I graduated in 1995. Silly shit – who claimed to be in a top ten law school – was intellectually incapable of imagining things ever having been different from what they were. it was also late enough in the year that he had to have taken public law, wherein one covers changing laws and regulations in depth. Yet not a clue.

    Since then, I’ve seen the same historical blinding shading over to idiocy almost every time I’ve dealt with a millennial. The exceptions are just that, exceptional.

    Hmmm..I did a write up on this phenom for somebody….hmmm…now who was it…aha!


    1. When I was trying not to fall asleep yesterday afternoon, I had a glorious bit of troll-logic pop into my head– someone proving that Aztecs never did human sacrifice because reports said they used chocolate, and it’s too hot in their area, chocolate would have melted– it melts at body temperature.
      So it was all made up.

      Hinging, of course, on the properties of milk chocolate, which didn’t exist until very recently…..

      1. Which is funny, as Europeans first encountered chocolate as a beverage in Mexico.

        1. Well, knowing Aztecs, they could find a way. They had a bunch of different sacrifices filling their liturgical calender.

          Foxfier’s hypothetical argument was “the same reports that attest to human sacrifice also attest to chocolate, ergo ‘fake news'”.

        2. K, the way it was in the pop history book is that chocolate was highly valued by the Aztecs, and that both the royalty and some of the human sacrifices were the only ones allowed to have any.

          The not skimmed over version is that they made a rather nasty sounding, bitter, spiced drink out of coco powder, and there’s some evidence some of the sacrifices got it, while it was an expression of great wealth that one of their leaders drank several cups in however long.

          It was basically based on examined assumptions.

            1. Lots of them floating around, no idea how accurate they are.

              Example is roughly one green chili, a quarter cup of unsweetened chocolate bean grinds, and some vanilla bean, boil in five cups water, (yetch!)

            2. A few years ago, someone claimed (As far as I know, the first claim to the authentic recipe) to have reconstructed the recipe. They followed this news up with the opinion that it was better left unrecovered, because it was NASTY.

        1. What you are describing sounds like a functional adaptation to living in a cult defined by adherence to an ever changing doctrine that is whatever is convenient for the senior cultist.

          That reminds me a of conversation where my cowardice continues to irritate. Younger man was going on about how the segregationists killed people, and because that is one of my interests, I have a pretty strong argument he was wrong. It is a situation I went into fearing retaliation, not thinking I could afford risks, and I am still determined to keep my head down.

          I’m a history buff relative to a lot of my peers, but I am not well read in history compared to TXRed, Celia Hayes or I think the majority of military officers.

        1. Up a little bit, to Synova; basically assuming that because someone describes a thing as “chocolate,” it’s got exactly the properties that you associate with chocolate.

          Not helped by people often wanting to use that; one of my kids’ South America books mentions that the Aztecs really liked chocolate, and “discovered” it. Needless to say, it does not explain that the chocolate they had was nothing like the stuff that’s melting in my pantry.

  24. Wonderfully OFF-TOPIC:

    Last night at work some areas of the place’s floor were being waxed. Others complained about how maze-like it was. I was amused by that. It didn’t seem labyrinthine at all to me. I suppose I might be just a little bit biased.

  25. After all the famous dictator’s role in history at large, is to make humanity realize that eugenic killings are bad ‘mkay?
    Unfortunately, less-famous dictator’s role seems to be to allow some people to scream “RACISSS!” when someone remarks “That guy turned that country into a real sh**hole.”

    I was hoping for a bigger lesson from Idi Amin. *sigh*

  26. :%s/ever bee in/even been in

    I’d say there’s a lot of things about the world that are better now in 2018 than they were in 1918, but we can’t really be entirely responsible for those either.

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