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.