I used to think of myself as a rebel. I thought that my generation would be instrumental in rearranging the rules of the game for the betterment of mankind. We all seemed to have great, lofty paragons, and spoke as if we knew exactly what was wrong with the world and what needed to be done to repair the damage.
So we sat around, smoked dope and made fun of the ‘system’. We were, in our minds, what constituted ‘Rebels’.
Forty-something years later, I now realise what idiots we really were. Some of us are still wearing what hair we have left in thin little ponytails, some still smoking dope, and some of us are still blowing smoke up each others asses, talking about how much we’ve changed the world, when in reality, we haven’t changed anything one iota; in fact, through our primarily passive ‘resistance’, we’ve only succeeded in making things worse.
I remember all of the talk of ‘love’ and ‘peace’, and the ‘freedom’ to do what the hell we pleased, and the anti-government ‘Down with the Man’ and ‘Fuck the System’ mantras. Clapton was God and Lennon was Jesus. Both men turned out to be little more than human.
Likewise, we’ve bullshitted ourselves into believing that we’re capable of changing things that can’t be changed, imagining ourselves ‘saving the planet’ (or at least our portion of it), and obnubilating equal rights with ‘special treatment’ (equal rights having been granted several decades before). Our generation will be remembered as the first generation who thought of nobody but themselves.
Our parents busted their collective asses to make the world a safer and better place for us, and in a way diametrically opposed to how they’d lived most of theirs: destitute child laborers, farm-hands, cold, hungry, and shoeless during the summer. Children without a childhood. Kids who were forced into the hard reality of life from the time they were old enough to work in the field, chop firewood, cook, sew, milk cows.
Those of whom, by the time they’d reached their twenties and having rarely left the county they’d grown up in, were then called upon to participate in a war half a world away, and from which many of them would never return.
The war also forced women to re-evaluate their purpose in life and fill a void in industry and technology that the young men had been expected to fill. They cut sheet metal, welded, and drove rivets, building the B-52 bomber, the Sherman tank and the P-51 Mustang.
And even though the government sent their young-men-without-a-childhood off to die in another country for a cause they couldn’t fully comprehend, they gave it their all unquestioningly, because they had an undying desire to change the world for the betterment of mankind. And for their own children. That is, for those men fortunate enough to return in one piece, get married, and have children.
My generation are those children.
We grew up being given a childhood that our parents never had the opportunity to experience. We had Bugs Bunny, breakfast cereal, electric trains, a proper education, and Rock ‘n Roll. In a word, our parents had provided us with everything that they’d never imagined themselves as having. And they shared it with us. They also attempted to give us a standard of values which we had no chance of being able to appreciate. Although they meant well, they created a monster by spoiling the shit out of us.
Our accomplishments dim in comparison to those of our parents. Although our parents’ generation had already proven that women could do anything that men could do, be it plough fields or build battleships, my generation imagined unparalleled ‘accomplishment’ with Billie Jean King’s defeat of dinosaur tennis star Bobby Riggs , and Gloria Steinham’s idiotic bra-burning ‘statement’.
And even when we’d basically grown into adults, all of our parents talk about ‘responsibility’ and ‘planning for the future’ sounded like so much nonsense. We’d been living carefree for this long, why should it stop? Why should we ever have to take anything besides ourselves seriously as long as we could extoll our imaginary virtues?
Dream on. That’s our motto.
We’re a generation of girly-men and manly-women, and we’re damn proud of it. We do ‘important’ things such as keep up with the Hollywood elite, watch sporting events on television, drink beer, and screw around on the computer. In actuality very few of us know how to do anything at all in order to survive. How far we’ve fallen.
Rebels, my ass.
George Washington was a rebel, as were John Hancock, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson. These men were willing to, in the words of Benjamin Franklin, “hang together or most certainly hang apart”. Our ancestors’ generations were those of action. Ours is a generation of slogans, banners and protest marches. Ours is a generation who gets ‘offended’ when someone says something ‘hurtful’. What a spineless, disappointing lot we all are. The white Americans, having done nothing to apologise for, are constantly apologising for something, even if they have to make up a reason. The black Americans, most having never even seen a field of cotton, awaken every day, reminding themselves that they’re black first and Americans second, burdening themselves with all of their imitative anger, and sneering as if they were still in shackles. The truth is far worse. All our shackles exist only in our imaginations, but by God, we’ll justify wearing them, using all sorts of gallant arguments in defense of our ’cause’.
We will leave behind a legacy of ruin. We can’t blame Roosevelt and Nixon forever, they only played a small part in our demise. We must charge Bush and Obama as well.
China owns us, Saudi Arabia owns us, Mexico owns us, and Japan owns us. And every other nation, under the guise of the UN, dictates what we can and can’t do, all the while doing anything they choose. The most amazing thing is that we host these manipulative parties within our very own borders. Our dollar is worthless. We manufacture nothing and buy everything. Especially the bullshit that our politicians and the media serve up. They’ve confused us so, the blue collar worker entrusts the blind trust-rich politician to regulate his employer out of the country, and the destitute families entrust their representitives to keep them in chains, preferring their petty welfare allowance to true freedom.
As Hyphenated-Americans proliferate, and patriots are aspersed as conspiracy theorists, the Constitution, being depicted as ‘old-fashioned’, is systematically disassembled by a group of sharp dressed traitors up in Washington.
Our country is slowly becoming that very beast from which our forebearers desperately fled.
Happy Birthday, America.