Don Rogers: The worst curse of age
It dawned on me during a meeting of newspaper leaders from my company a few years ago at Squaw Valley.
One of the editors, whip smart and lured to the Colorado mountains after a career at Midwestern metros, was going on, having a bit of a fit. Those Millennials, he was saying, exasperated. They aren’t like you and me. No, these kids don’t want to work, not really. They’re feckless, entitled, want our jobs just handed to them.
And then they want more. Like easy schedules, plenty of time for play, a work-life balance. No loyalty, either. They’re gone like that with the next opportunity.
Job-hopping, demanding, coddled, spoiled whiners.
I smiled. Had it really come to be? Had we really grown into our parents?
Only yesterday, it seemed, I was doing leg lifts in my high school gym with the rest of the basketball team. Coach O’Neil strode, whistle hanging from his neck, in slacks because he could not abide blue jeans, lecturing as he led us through calisthenics and stretching before practice.
Never had there been a generation worse than ours, he said, the as yet unnamed Boomers, lazy, entitled, spoiled and on, and on, and on. Of course we’d never amount to anything. He strode. We kept our legs up. He droned. We’d heard it before. He’d retire soon, entirely out of the touch by then. He wouldn’t be missed. Not by us anyway.
I know my father suffered the same hectoring from his father, one of the Greatest who fought in World War II. Maybe it stopped there. Who had the luxury of adolescence during world wars and the Great Depression?
But I doubt it. We’ve been going to hell in a hand basket since at least Socrates, one disappointing generation after another.
And not just the kids, the world. Things have never been worse, the Decline of the West, the East, all of it! America used to be great. But now: Crime! Violence! Mayhem! Poverty! Our morals! Our governance! Education, environment, health, literature, science. Such a sorry state.
The only thing rising is the machines coming to take us over. Pandemics, nuclear weapons, biological weapons, terrorism, opioids. The Chinese! The Russians! Maybe the Iranians, ISIS, al-Shabab, MS-13. Hurricanes, tsunamis, fires, drought, floods, global warming, peak oil, population exploding and how will we feed ’em all?
What have we wrought? We’re like Agent Smith in “The Matrix” describing humanity as a cancer.
A group organized in Grass Valley to raise the sales tax on account of all the crime increasing in the fair city. They talked, they posted, they wrote letters to the editor and commentaries, approached the City Council. Things are going to hell and we need more police and similar resources.
Only the facts don’t back this up. Crime here, lowest among all our neighboring counties for a long time, actually, in fact is going down, not up.
And in fact, this is the case across California, our nation, the world.
Yeah, today we have far more to fear from overeating, drinking, driving sober to church than just about anything other than old age.
We humans kill each other much, much less than we did in almost any past you wish to check. The world is notable for the overpopulation that didn’t happen, for not running out of food or water as predicted, for the race wars, civil wars, world wars we’re not having so much anymore.
We’re safer, healthier, happier and even smarter statistically than we’ve ever been. War has ebbed steadily over the generations and from on back in history. We’re taller, stronger, faster. We live longer. We have a lot more money and access to the finer things in life. Many of us get to enjoy this rare, rare thing in history called retirement.
The poor are fat and have TVs and air conditioning. We’re far better educated, even if that hasn’t helped those who’ve succumbed to the rather intricate and complicated tales of the Deep State, the pedophilia rings, chem trails and such propagated by Russians, Chinese and bored college students happy to make stuff up for a buck.
If you have a sense of humor and can still step back from the moment, the world has become a much funnier place for sure.
As for those Millennials, who in another blink of time will be crabbing about “those kids,” well, they’re just fine. Every generation has its goofballs, its fear mongers, its dumbshits, its trolls.
And every generation has the right stuff, too. Perhaps the happy irony is that while the elders whine about whole generations that aren’t them, the next gen has the higher proportion of sharp, wise minds to take humanity up the next notch. IQ scores in America rise a few points every 10 years, you know. Empirically speaking, our kids really are smarter than us.
Coach O’Neil was full of crap. All he was telling us was the world had passed him by, his mind had set into cinder block, he’d gone lazy with judgment, no longer up to the hard work of thinking. Same with my editor friend, sorry to say.
Same with you and me when we fall for this trap as old as humanity, when instead of growing into sages, we become part of the problem ourselves.
Don Rogers is the publisher of the Sierra Sun and The Union, based in Grass Valley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4299.