Tag Archives: affluence

The waxing and waning of generational blame

Ashes to ashes2Hi readers     Thanks for coming by.

I don’t believe I ever doubted anytime during my 74 times around the sun that my parents and their generation experienced far more difficulties on average in life than did my own generation.    I’d go a step further and conjecture that in general all previous generations to mine tended to be more challenging to the folks living in them than my own as a genre experienced.

To me this doesn’t seem a subject of controversy .   More than likely the great majority of people who traveled that piece of time with me would agree.

But unless I’m mistaken, we’ve come to a place in history where convictions of that sort among the young no longer exist.    Everything I see of young people suggests to me they believe their generation actually doesn’t have it as ‘good’ as their parents or their grandparents.     As measured in almost everything they value.

In some ways I believe they are right.   The baby-boomers beginning during WWII in the United States were blessed with an affluence beyond anything that’s gone before in the entire history of mankind.   We lived in a time when the pantheon of individual choices ranged from entrepreneur, to beatnik, to hippy, to hitch-hiker to corporate climber.    Or any combination of those and countless others.

It wasn’t our fault.    We lived in a world in transition, born into a bubble of expectations and hope that allowed us a confidence we had no reason to doubt, but no business believing.     And because of that, while many of us merely submerged ourselves in numb mediocrity, a substantial piece of the whole went out and lived our lives in ways that left no doubt that life could be lived.

So what happened to convert the confidence and enthusiasm, the trust, of the 1950s, 1960s, and to some extent, the 1970s, to the slough of despond and hopelessness  that emerged among the youngsters in the 1990s and 2000s?

I don’t believe, despite their perceptions, that younger people have it more difficult than my generation.   In fact, in many ways they appear to have it sufficiently easier to qualify as appalling.    True, there aren’t a lot of manufacturing, skilled labor, whatever-middle-class-hell jobs were around back before everything went to the 3rd World.     And it isn’t clear how the current population of mediocrity will provide for themselves so’s to accumulate tons of appliances, entertainment, transportation, bass boats, clothing and cosmetic surgery.

But is that really a quality of life issue?    Isn’t it, rather, a challenge of personal values and priorities?

I’ll confess, reading posts of young people on FaceBook hasn’t given me much sympathy for them, hasn’t inspired much hope they’ll make the world a better place during their time here.     But then, when it comes down to it, neither did mine own generation.

Sure, a lot of people I knew were moderately-to-wildly successful at accumulating wealth.   A lot of them surpassed themselves in various ways far greater than anyone would have expected of them when we were kids.   And many of them handed everything to their kids with a silver spoon, spoiled them beyond recognition.    Indulged in precisely the same mindset as my generation’s parents who went through WWII and the great depression, determined that their children would have it easier than they, themselves had it.

But my generation had it so damned easy, making it even easier on those that followed might qualify as a crime in a better world.   Might qualify as condemning our progeny to expectations that bear almost no relationship to anything related to happiness, fulfillment, or genuine satisfaction.

This isn’t the first generation in the history of man where many have been reduced to the moral and economic equivalent of flipping burgers to earn a living.    The simple fact is, the affluence derived from a minimum wage 21st Century job would have been coveted by so many of our ancestors so far back we’d lose count trying to identify them.

“We’ is a terrible word.    It pretends there’s some group of individuals who share some accomplishment, some responsibility, some abstraction.    Something that happened on our watch.

And the fact is, there isn’t any such we.      I’ve lived a life of 74 years and I didn’t have a damned thing to do with anything that happened during my time on this planet.   Not a single damned thing.

And I honestly can’t say I’ve been in personal contact with anyone who did.    The people who made things happen, who drove the events of my lifetime might as well have existed in comic books, movies, television shows and epic poems.   Because I sure as hell never encountered one.

Jeese, what a life.    What a ride this has been.   What a phony, sexy, drug-induced hallucination.

Old Jules

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No heaven on earth. No utopias. Just more people

Finding stereotypes capable of holding up under close scrutiny is necessary for humans, but generally goes unrefined.

Finding stereotypes capable of holding up under close scrutiny is necessary for humans, but generally goes unrefined.

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

I spent a while bouncing around RV full timers forum-type discussion board-type places lately.  Curious about whether any stereotype applies.  What I found was not a single good, solid stereotype a person could hammer down to perfection, but rather a number of herds of them.

Not much of this sort of thing out there among the modern nomad population.  Whether they're van dwellers or motor homesters, clean lines, shiny paintjobs and glitter are major attractions.  If it ain't eye candy it belongs in a different universe.

Not much of this sort of thing out there among the modern nomad population. Whether they’re van dwellers or motor homesters, clean lines, shiny paintjobs and glitter are major attractions. If it ain’t eye candy it belongs in a different universe.

Fields of peas pretty much running with other peas, cornfields sticking with their corny neighbors, and everyone seemingly well fed.  A few farmers within each stereotype weeding and watering.

I was especially interested in Slab City and what the people who stay there winters have to say to one another.  I thought because it’s as near anarchy as a person gets in the US, it might tell some worthy things about us as a place viewing itself as a free people, thinkers, individualists.

There’s some of that on the surface.  Everyone saying to one another, you have to take whatever comes in Slab City.  Everyone celebrating and patting themselves on the backs for their rugged individualism.

But in fact there’s an undercurrent a lot less worthy of self-praise among them.  An undercurrent of bullying and intimidation hidden in the “gotta take it as it comes” platitudes.

Turns out “take it as it comes” means, “take me as I come” and don’t even think about me taking you as you come.  If you try I’ll probably slit your tires.  Or shoot your cats.

It manifests itself subtly in the matter of cats.  Seems over the past few years women visiting the slabs have had their cats killed by dogs, or shot by dog lovers.  Always women.  How about them apples?

For folks who don’t have much interest nor love for cats and don’t have any desire at all in going on crusades, sacrificing the soothing rewards of rugged individualist wildass self-image community, it just flows down like Jack Daniels Black Label.  Everything bad hiding inside “taking it as it comes” harmony.

I’m figuring it would be a place I’d have to go to war if I landed there.  Can’t see myself sitting still for having my tires cut, knowing someone else who got his tires cut, me having a firm idea who did it.  And most especially knowing who some cat-shooting human was, or cat-killing dog-running-loose owner.

Sometimes wars can happen without anyone having to go looking for, drive so damned far out of the way.  I hope I don’t have anymore wars left ahead of me this lifetime, but if I do I ain’t going to drive 1000 miles to find them.

Old Jules

The Occasional Crisis of Values – Philosophy by Limerick

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Eavesdropping on a conversation between young adults at a nearby table in a restaurant Thursday led me into a lot of pondering afterward.  All these rosy-cheeked youngsters believed they had long lives ahead of them, believed a human life can be lived performing occupations and activities to give it value and meaning.   They wanted this for themselves and were searching the databases of wisdom available among the young for answers to where it might be found.

They didn’t want to waste their lives, as they believed their parents, other older folks they observed, were doing and have done.  They examined and discarded dozens of avenues of human endeavor as meaningless, having no worth. 

Buying and selling almost anything from automobiles to insurance to consumer products found no home with them.  Lawyering, law enforcement, engineering, health care, drew closer examination, but were found wanting.  They’d had been damned by close observation of these fields as manifested in their own homes and the homes of acquaintances.  

They’d seen the inside of the lives of people who spent their days doing these things, experienced their interactions with their children and other family members.  Judged the professions to be worthless as a way of passing time because the dysfunctional home lives of so many served as a testimony no relationship existed between earning an affluent lifestyle and anything admirable in personal behavior outside work environments. 

But underlying the entire conversation was the assumption some profession, some job, some means of earning a living, could provide value to their lives in ways they’d be able to recognize afterward.  The unspoken determination that when they reached, say, the age of that old cowboy-looking guy over there reading a book, they’d be able to look backward with confidence and satisfaction their lives had been worth the effort of living.

A few years from now they won’t be thinking of those things anymore, most likely.  They’ll become involved in trying to scratch out a living, satisfy a mate’s desire for a new car, trips to Europe, big house.  Keep kids in new clothing and whatever else people buy for their kids these days.  There’ll be no place left, no niche of yearning they’ll be able to allow.  The value of the lives they’re living will be manifested in the cars they drive.  The homes they sleep and entertain themselves inside.

By the time they arrive at the age of that old cowboy-looking guy over there they’ll be so far removed from concepts of life being worth living the default position will be a habit of thinking assigning it intrinsic value.  Worth prolonging at any cost, no matter how it’s been spent, how it’s currently being spent.

They’ll mercifully be spared asking themselves whether they’ve wasted their lives doing things that didn’t need doing, might well have left the world a better place if they hadn’t been done.

What’s important in life is official
Sign-painters declare, and initial,
“Portfolio sums
When we die, keep the bums
From the ponderous and superficial.”

Old Jules