Yesterday, those were the good ol’ days. Them’s were times when people had duty, they had integrity, and they were conscientious. Well, not really. Or, maybe to an extent. But it is fun to look back and find some little thing that seemed right, something that we can cherish.
Looking back, I cherish the thought of people showing up to work on time, determined to get the job done, and willing to put forth their best effort. They learned. People figured out how to do something well, and then they learned even more. There was a sense of pride. In my own first job, it was a bunch of kids packaging and delivering ice. Cubed ice, crushed ice, block ice. It was a meaningless job, except that we poured ourselves into the work, challenging each other to go faster, work harder. Being on break, exhausted, the feeling of being tired was both the pain and the reward for a commitment to the job and to self.
Why? What was the culture of the time that made performance a reward unto itself? Today I see a split. There are a few who see personal responsibility as a challenge with inherent rewards, and there are many who see no responsibility, just a challenge without promise and no hope. They live for today and live for some unseen ulterior motive. Why? What is the difference?
Culture. Culture changed. Culture is how we weave a different fabric of society by connecting each of us together using different colors and a variety of patterns. There are many possibilities. What seems constant, is that humanity survives by creating some form of social structure. The structure we make as people is also what creates the materials and systems by which we survive. Culture is our means of survival. The patterns in the fabric are the agreements we make for means of survival. Asking why, why is the culture one way or another, is to ask why are people connecting in a particular manner for their survival.
Things have changed. To us who grew up in a culture that was responsible to work, to machines, to progress, to us any change in culture away from this does not make sense. Why would youth turn to gangs and video games and texting as means to survival? Are they crazy? As I learned in behaviorism, labels are applied according to results, not according to expectations. So, youth are only crazy if they end up dead as a result of their choice for culture. But what if they are right? What if they survive?
If youth are correct in their reevaluation of culture, then there probably will be considerable change in the way things work. Gangs will be the new communities. Texting will be the new communication. Any higher authority will be ignored except if there is a hand-out. Fate is not something in their hands, but simply what happens in the next ten seconds. Crazy thoughts or feelings are not something to be addressed through story telling, books, counseling, meditation and prayer, but rather are the driving force to meet a fundamental need for drugs and alcohol.
Nothing has changed… inside. Inside people have always wanted ease, escape from pain, avoidance of confusion. However, is it just my impression, or is there a lack of cohesion? Are we are lacking the sort of togetherness that built our roads and railways, that built a global financial network, that took us to the moon? Are we now an “everyone for himself” society? Probably this is a passing fancy. Like the hippies. The flower children had their drugs and sex and alternative culture, and then grew up to be doctors, bankers and lawyers. And then they had families.
Oops. Maybe that is the real issue. It is we people who had the families. We were still doing drugs and alcohol while raising kids. What should have existed as role modeling to show our children the fabric of society, instead the kids watched television. I was one of them. And I became a very strange kid who sought out story telling, books, counseling, meditation and prayer. Because something was wrong. I had no sense of presence in the fabric of society. I knew myself merely as a loose thread. Very difficult it is to place myself in the fabric of society while set apart from the activities that should have demonstrated cohesive interaction and an upward evolution. If there is a big “oops” in our culture, it is that the generation who raised the hippies failed to role model the fabric of culture. The unraveling began. With each passing generation we appreciate less and less our responsibility to teach our youth, modeling the fabric of society in our own homes. Bad parenting begets even worse parents for the next generation. This disease of parenting is okay however. Our culture declared it okay. More than that, our culture declared this activity sanctified. No one may interfere with the way I choose to parent my children! It is my right. However, in the good ol’ days, behaviorism was enforced. You were a good parent if your children turned out to be responsible, hard working, and intelligent. Not today. Every parent I talk to is vehement that their children all turned out different, and it was all out of their control. In other words, ignorance is bliss.
To refrain, youth could be correct. The culture needs a new fabric. We need a standard across society where it is good to eat bad food, it is expected that health will deteriorate, that drugs will pacify the resulting pain and anxiety. As the middle class disappears, as resources dry up, as beauty vanishes from the face of the earth, we are going to need a race of people with low expectations and low intelligence. They will be passive spectators, irresponsible, watching the demise of civilization. After all is said and done, we will label this generation as courageous and compassionate for having the where-with-all to endure the de-evolution of society. But they survived. The few who scratched out an existence, and with no social fabric to depend on, were well situated to create a new fabric for a new era. Coming from nothing, these idiots will be the ones to create the new working order of human civilization.
If that is plan A, then I’m really hoping there is a plan B. What for me gives meaning to our existence is when I look back at yesterday to see great minds and great artists weaving their genius into the fabric. The fabric evolves. Not only do we survive, but our wisdom evolves. The result, again and again, is arriving at a place where we can look back in appreciation, and see where the creative genius of the few was role modeled for the creativity of the many. And society evolved.
In summary, our evolution as a species is not a given. Parents and the culture really do hold responsibility. Genius is a label we may apply to ourselves only if our children evolve to recreate society as more functional, more beautiful and more intelligent in an ever brighter future.