more on the same sad topic
|My, how the world shifts, all around me, as I watch and take notes.
I'm old enough to have a bit of perspective, I suppose. From that comes certain understanding.
I happen to live in a city big enough and cosmopolitan enough, to provide a backdrop of never ending
changes in styles, customs, traditions, attitudes....that have migrated here from all over the world.
It fascinates me.
It is so very, very different from the world I grew up in.
Those times offered a typical course of events in a person's life, and governed certain standards
and expectations about the evolution of freedom and responsibility.
Back then, it wasn't difficult for a smart kid to look around themselves a bit, and see just where they
Life came at you with certain challenges, which you met head-on as best you could, because if you
knew what you were about, keeping your eye on the prize provided all the motivation necessary.
The prize? Freedom, of course.
It was simple. When I grew up, the rules were straightforward. Each and every family was a kind of mini-penetentiary. A prison. Perhaps with velvet walls...but a prison, nonetheless. The parents of course, were the wardens, the jailors, the gatekeepers. The kids - were the prisoners. That was just a simple fact of life.
Outside of this institution....was freedom.
Us kids - had no idea exactly what that was. We just knew we wanted it. We knew it was on the other side of the prison walls. It didn't matter how scary it was. It could scare the living crap out of us - we still wanted it.
I don't think we ever really questioned that. It was just a natural thing. Instinctively - we knew it was good.
Let's fast-forward four decades.
Cast your eye about. Have a good look. What do you see?
Here's a short list:
Eight year-olds who don't have the freedoms four year-olds used to.
Twelve year-olds who don't have the freedoms eight year-olds used to.
Sixteen year-olds who barely have the freedoms twelve year-olds used to.
College students still living exactly the same way and with the same restrictions I experienced in the junior years of high school.
Beyond that, legions of "adult" children still living at home in their childhood bedroom. (Mom and Dad finally realized they had to go out and buy a full-sized bed for junior.)
That this happens at all, is bad enough. But what really bugs me is the long slow dive into acceptance. So many people think this is normal, now.
When my father was twenty-five, he was a father twice over.
You see, it's not just about "economic" factors. It's about a time in a person's life that used to be the sole province of truly adult possibility. One may have been poor, struggling to make ends meet.
But they were independent.
They were, um - free.
I ponder that. What the hell does that word mean exactly, to someone who is in their late twenties, say - and still living in the house they grew up in?
Let's suppose they earned an undergraduate degree. The economy is unkind to them, the job market stinks - so they go back for some post-grad. Same results.
I can understand - life sucks when the best you can do is minimum wage service work.
But what exactly is the solution? To remain in the parental home until you're forty? (hoping the economy turns around by then...)
I look around, and see all up and down the ladder of ages....this really weird thing - as if, some kind of ageist "inflation" has ripped the crap out of what any given age is supposed to mean, anymore.
Curiously - the trend, or pattern...seems to tail off right about somewhere down near the bottom of the boom generation. It hasn't seemed to infect a lot of forty-somethings yet. But below that - the evidence is startling.
And to all the boomers - who point their finger and accuse their youngers of being lazy, unmotivated, greedy...and a whole host of various other indictments...
Well, I don't think it's that simple. A lot of these people weren't raised to look at freedom as the same kind of prize.
Freedom - isn't something you go out and buy with a million bucks because your MBA was earned in the Ivy League and your starting job was well into six figures.
Freedom is something you take with both your hands, and work however hard in whatever way necessary...to keep it, never let go of it, no matter what.
I knew that when I was ten. No word of a lie.
I couldn't do anything about it until I was sixteen.
And then I did.
It wasn't that there was anything particularly special about me - nothing special at all.
It was that I grew up in an era that encouraged me - to keep my eye on that prize.
The prize was freedom, folks.
Not the idol of America, or McMansions Plus-size, or CEO Heaven.
An awful lot of things have become cheapened, as the world changes.
Freedom, after all this time, is still - well, um....
what a concept.