I woke up in a bad mood today and I’m not going to apologize for it. I’m not even going to explain it. Everyone else can be angry about things, so I can as well. There’s lots to be angry about, from the trivial to the significant. Sometimes you can’t tell where one leaves off and the other begins. That’s because of what Douglas Adams called “the fundamental interconnectedness of it all”.
One thing I’m angry about is the continuing insulting of the Baby Boomer Generation as though it is responsible for everything wrong in the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. We’re the bunch that moved society on by great leaps and bounds. When I was young segregation was a thing in so many places and situations it was horrible. But our generation turned George Wallace from “segregation forever” to “segregation never” and black people got elected mayors and governors in the South.
We knew pollution was a problem and went on to not just create Earth Day as a trendy symbol, but to clean up the land, air, and water. We really did. Remember the Environmental Protection Agency? It used to be a thing.
Never mind the advancements we made it the sciences. We are not responsible for the situational irony that smartphones are now used to ‘warn’ people of the ‘dangers’ of vaccines and fifth generation communication technology. We passed our science exams.
But just because one country put a leader in place (I can’t say ‘elected’ as that is debatable) who has proven to be the worst leader of any country in the history of the entire world and that person coincidentally belongs to our generation as well, we are all demoted to the same level of “moron troublemakers”. Well we didn’t vote him in; there aren’t enough of us left to do so. That means he had to have support from younger age groups, if not some foreign entity bypassing the entire electoral system somehow. He’s what is known as a “statistical outlier”, not a “representative sample” of the Baby Boomer Generation.
Thus we have the ignorant among us using the catch phrase “okay, boomer” as some sort of slight towards this now older generation because they have little understanding of history. They are so self-centered I’m not surprised they support an egomaniac moron, or in the case of Canada an ignorant narcissistic git who thinks budgets balance themselves. There’s no true leadership among the leaders these days, which explains the lack of empathy among the populace. Or perhaps vice-versa.
As a result we have ineffective social movements. People who think they can improve the future by denying the past. Crowds who like to complain, but offer no constructive criticism. Identifying what is wrong is the first step, but it is a meaningless one if you don’t also offer a solution (not just demand one). It should be pretty obvious that answers are not going to be forthcoming from people who are operating the currently flawed system. After all, if they could see the way to improvement they’d do it. (If they can see the way and don’t do it that is part of the problem.)
Taking down statues of past racists won’t solve anything. Taking down current racists will. The former is an exercise is denying history, and thus condemning the future to relive it. The latter is the way of change. Yes some of those statues should never have been put up in the first place. For example celebrating the Confederate traitors who were not only on the losing side of the war but also on the wrong side. But if you were to take down every commemoration of past slave owners you’d also be missing out on Thomas Jefferson. It’s a matter of context, you see. As it is with so many other things, like language where a particular word is not offensive but how it is used is.
It is good that NASCAR has banned the rebel flag from their grounds, even if it’s a decision coming 155 years late. But Mississippi still has it as part of their state flag. How can anyone justify that? The “part of our heritage” excuse is not viable: not everything in one’s heritage is something to be proud of. Almost every culture on Earth has had slavery at one time or another, and most were smart enough not only to end it but to not allow any romanticized depictions of it which might lead to people who were too far removed from the actual situation to think it wasn’t as bad as it was.
There are complaints that are justified and those that are not. An episode of Fawlty Towers gets removed from view because it contains blatant racist epithets. The fact that they are used in a manner that demonstrates how stupid and backward it is to be a bigot is ignored, and so the lesson that would be taught is lost. Gone With The Wind continues to stir controversy over its depiction of slavery in the southern US, even though that depiction is historically accurate.
There is a scene in Eugene O’Neil’s “Ah, Wilderness!” wherein a black servant is chastised for not being a racial stereotype for his master and is forced to hide his college education and carry on as the racists expect a black man to be. This is a telling bit, because a lot of them did just that: behaved as expected to avoid controversy and conflict.
But now we must erase words and people from history because they are offensive to modern sensibilities. Not “see how horrible it was? Haven’t we made lots of improvements?” but “oh we just don’t talk about that”. How will anyone learn from such denial? Do we not admonished neo-Nazis for their assertion the Holocaust didn’t happen?
As for the word “niggardly”, it isn’t even etymologically related. Learn, people.
People have become too simplistic. Things are either good or bad, and they can’t grasp the complex subtleties such as “the dose makes the poison”. So “the ‘N’ word” is eliminated from the language in all contexts, and the disgusting aspect of it is removed. It’s the opposite of the effect of over-using expletives which causes their impact to be lessened.
So to you younger, non-boomer generations I say stop pretending. Reality is an ugly thing at times, and you have to face up to it. Not every job in life is arranging flowers. Sometimes you have to shovel the shit.
I have a lot more to say about … well everything. But this was cathartic and will end now, even though I’m still in a very bad mood.