Recently I’ve posted links on Facebook to a few appalling news stories and was surprised when they didn’t get any traction, not even a like. Normally posts like these at least get one or two responses, which leads me to consider the possibility that people are just weary right now. Maybe we’ve collectively reached the conclusion that sharing a link with friends to help expose some corruption scandal won’t help to stop or even slow the momentum of this transformative, power-thirsty juggernaut that hounds us.
I think about the exhausted exasperation of our disappointment at the current state of affairs, a spectacle of “public servants” whose incompetence, buffoonery, pettiness, and shortsightedness siphon off our tax dollars and contribute nothing. Numb to hearing about billions wasted on failed government projects, overwhelmed and powerless in the face of total surveillance (a program that actually seems to work quite well, ironically), and struck by the overarching loss of faith and respect for anything centralized—as the moral hazard ripens the people do not itch for revolution but seek to remove themselves from the equation. Realizing that we’re on our own, we’re just throwing up our hands and trying to move ahead with our lives even if the status quo itself isn’t worth fighting for.
The ship is out of control for everybody. People who once thought they were part of a political vanguard that was trying to do something good now realize that movements get co-opted or corrupted, and beyond that, we’re all on a much bigger ride whose captain we don’t even know and whose destination we can’t see. From Acorn to Enron, from the Peace Corps to Penn State, institutions all eventually devolve into only functioning to ensure their own survival—even at the expense of their charter or those they victimize criminally. We are living through the dissolution of the institutions that achieved prominence during the post-WWII boom, and I say just step out of the way and let them crumble.
And if we’re done fighting we are also slowly withdrawing our participation—and maybe our ambivalence can actually take the air out of the juggernaut’s tires. We won’t play the game anymore, the emperor’s clothes don’t exist—the emperor himself does not exist! Because we’re slowly realizing that we don’t really need him to function, be happy, work, play, do business.
Maybe the powers that be can sense our withdrawal. Maybe they’re amazed that anyone is still filing and paying any taxes at all. Maybe even they are also looking up “waiting for Godot” like we are. Because every time I have to deal with a government paper-pusher or bank employee I make sure to talk very slowly and play dumb just to keep their brains from overheating. What a profound divide: a mass of awake and earnest everyday people weighed down by the cushy-job class which took the lure of stable hours and benefits but as a result has stagnated and atrophied to the point of being incapable of any effective desperation move should they ever realize that the safety net of their pension plan has been cut away.
Who is honestly looking forward to the 2016 election? I feel like I’m not alone in shouting out, “You can hold an 18-month election circus but I won’t be party to your media frenzy. You won’t be permitted to monopolize my headspace with endless babbling over which pre-selected, pseudo-dynastic candidate must be selected because he or she has the best chance to win an election whose voting machines have already been exposed as open to fraud and manipulation. I’m going to live my life while you sit in a bright little studio caked in makeup blathering to a camera lens.”
In fact, I sense a lot of changes as we rewrite what it means to live well. Earnest men who previously gave authority the benefit of the doubt and burdened themselves with diligent paperwork, will now just do as they please—and in an ironic twist would live much more fully, productively, and freely than ever.
I think of how the aging WWII-generation hounded every last dollar they were entitled to and desperately clung to life no matter their grotesque level of debilitation. This attitude gives way to today’s younger generation with its much more sanguine, seize-the-day attitude where quality of life is paramount and death is not feared.
If the older generations would just finally get off the stage—making sure to take the burdensome scenery with them—the under-40 crowd is going to find a way out of this mess. From cracked-face career politicians writing technology bills to the relentless Clintons and Bushes, we need fresh faces and fresh blood…otherwise to be honest, this game isn’t worth fighting for anymore.