It's important, before I continue with this essay, that my readers understand I'm not angry, depressed, or otherwise impaired--my humanity is bruised, and I'm doing my best to keep going without succumbing to the negativity around me. If I am in any kind of pain, I suppose it's the pain of a wounded spirit.
Not too long ago it occurred to me that when my generation is dead and gone--and my sons' generation, as well--that subsequent ones will continue on, never knowing there was a time without scanners at the entrance of retail establishments and government buildings. Transportation by air wasn't preceded by invasive physical searches of travelers' bodies. Mine may've been the last generation to receive a reasonably well-rounded education, and mine, one of the last not to be disconnected from friends and loved ones by the distractions of technology.
I may be one of the last of my kind.
No, I'm not sad, really; just on that precarious cusp between caring and no longer giving a shit, and it's an odd place to be, one I never dreamed I'd occupy at this point in my life. I suppose the most poignant situation I faced was walking away from a friendship when I discovered my friend considered me irrational for expressing concerns and offering information I considered important and worthy of consideration in a social networking venue. I hadn't seriously thought my actions "rants". To be fair to my friend, I suppose what I had to say might've seemed extreme, but we now live in extreme times and I was expressing my thoughts about them. I know that not everyone sees things as I do--to think otherwise would be irrational--and others' interpretations of our lives and times are as legitimate as mine. That is now water under an old bridge, but the circumstances of life in the twenty-first century continue to roll along, befuddling many people such as I, and my reaction to the befuddlement is to push back with the only means left to me: my ability to think with discernment.
I don't wander through my days under a perpetual cloud of doom, but the occasional pensive moment finds me mourning the changes around me; I don't know, perhaps it's just something which happens with age. I'm not so foolish to think life was consistently better back in the day--nor was it less complicated--but there is an energy now which seems to pervade every aspect of human activity which, to me, anyway, makes hope a slippery and elusive thing.
Science and technology once shone in my estimation and offered the possibility of a better quality of life for everyone. With time's passage, I've seen pharmaceutical companies promote overmedication and technology become the master--rather than the dutiful servant--of humanity, and those who stand against the onslaught of those two forces are now marginalized. In much the same way as political dissidents have often been labeled unstable and impaired, people who ask their fellows to question the status quo are frequently labeled "fringe" in their thinking.
It's also occurred to me that perhaps this is simply the lifespan of civilization; all the great cultures had their times to flourish and then to decline and pass into history as mere footnotes. The Roman, Greek, Aztec, Incan, and Mayan empires, among others, experienced such changes and, whether due to internal collapse or external influences, whatever made them great once, wasn't great enough to sustain them. Perhaps that's what is happening around the world today--corrupt leadership, societal apathy, and technology out of control affect all of us to some extent and none of us are entirely untouched by these. Perhaps humanity simply hasn't attained enough maturity as a species to survive.
My essential nature is such that when I perceive trouble, I want to correct it; I've been that way most of my life. The sad fact appears to be that the trouble which surrounds all of us is such that not even great masses of people may be able to effect lasting changes for the better. Territorial, political, generational, and other concerns may stand in the way of that ever happening. Still, I hope--I try very hard to maintain hope that we will see that technology complicates our lives and disconnects us from each other more than it brings us together, that we surrender more and more of our humanity in exchange for illusions of convenience and security. Greater still is my hope that we will exercise our gift of free will to make better choices for ourselves and the little planet we all share before it's too late...
...my concern is that perhaps it already is.