a friend just forwarded me this chain email:
oh i just love the finger-pointing game! can i play too?
by the logic in this grumpy old man’s missive, it wasn’t the fault of old people who “didn’t have the green thing back then”, but honestly, nor is it the fault of snotty-nosed brats coming into receipt of a ravaged, depleted, sick world full of the vestiges of thoughtless, selfish old people. or is it?
maybe, just maybe, there’s enough blame to go ALL around, in retrospect, and in advance?
…to the older generation who didn’t just accept their lot in life so humbly and honourably as depicted below, but who also sought to make life ‘better’ and easier for their children, most of them in blissful ignorance of the impact it would have on the world and its finite capacity.
…to the current generation who continue to strive for an easier life and who perpetuate and expand the culture of consumption & disposable products despite the knowledge of its many and varied negative impacts and in continuing disregard for the future generations, bamboozled as we collectively are by media long ago bought out by powerful commercial vested interests who misrepresent fact, disproportionately highlight scientific debate, and cunningly swap the popular meanings of “believer” and “sceptic” in the sham climate “debate”.
…and to the future generation we inculcate with these same ideals, who will follow in our footsteps, laden with overinflated senses of entitlement that will crumble when the world finishes collapsing in an eco-heap (which started at least half a century ago), who will then be forced to make extremely difficult decisions about their future (the ones that we’ve failed to make thus far), and endure an environment, and a lifestyle quite different and measurably inferior to what they were promised, due to the selfish actions of those in past generations. at the same time they’ll want to reject the wisdom of those damn fools from the older generations who fucked everything up and who’ll probably only ‘fess up after it’s too late to do anything about it.
maybe, just maybe, finger-pointing and blame isn’t helping.
“back in my day” – it’s a phrase used by old and not-so-old alike. Gen-Y altered it a bit, “back in the day”, to make it sound a bit less grumpy-old-man-ish, but i even hear Gen-Xers using “back in my day”, as if their lives are entering twilight, a sense of impotence in their ability to effect change. but what does “back in my day” really mean? halcyon days sometimes, but usually that things were harder back then and that the younger generation have somehow got it easy – which they do in a material sense, but they absolutely don’t in a whole lot of other ways older people conveniently forget. but i think there’s much more to it than that.
the older we get, the less we seem to care (as measured by our actions, as distinct from our words), the less we are willing to change our ways, and the less we are likely to put our foot down and say “enough is enough!”. teenagers have their pre-programmed rebellious phase, part of the process of growing up and discovering the boundaries of society, until they finally accept the world around them to large extent and fall into line with the status quo. the older we grow, the less we want to change the world. there are exceptions, of course, but that’s what they are: the exceptions, the troublemakers, the misfits, the square pegs in round holes, the ones who actually change the world.
“back in my day” almost always refers to collective culture, even if it’s invoked with individual experience to illustrate a point. but “back in my day” isn’t just brandished to mean “life was harder back then”, but often as a claim to virtuousness, or at least retrospective credit for past sacrifice as measured by today’s standards, that “we were so ‘good’ to have endured such hardships back then, the likes of which these younguns couldn’t imagine”. it becomes an unspoken “back in my day, things were better, WE were better“.
i call bullshit. i think it’s also how we whitewash the consequences of our decisions and chosen lifestyles, even if that choice is made from the narrow range society considers appropriate.
“back in my day, we were better”. maybe, maybe not. but how did we get to this point? on the rare occasions such questions are asked, the response, the suggested causes, are often presented as external factors, collective cultural pressures, or maybe the actions of Others, rather than the choices of the individual. we even blame corporations for our plight, forgetting that it was us and our forebears – by deed or inaction – who imbued corporations with power that often exceeds that of the individual, but without the conscience of one. and as we get older we even believe it’s too late to change those rules by which we, as shareholders, demand those corporations operate, blind to our own conflict of interest.
we are all responsible for our past. we are all responsible for now. and we are all responsible for tomorrow.