On the Current State of the World
As I sit here and debate what to put on this blank piece of paper, I keep trying to think of funny, or cool, or interesting topics, something that people will relate to and give me complements and imaginary high-fives for having the same thoughts as they do. However, the problem is I can never think of one. Maybe because I don’t feel the same way as everybody else I can’t think like everyone else. But, today is a new and different day, one in which I finally found something important to write about, except this time it’s not for anyone else. It is more of a rant than anything. What truly ignited this topic was the recent closure of the Barnes and Noble near my house, leaving me with literally no refuge in the black hole that is Long Island. What I want to talk about is the general state of the world as it is, as a whole, the way I see it. Between the upcoming US Presidential election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, a contest which would be hilarious for its new levels of pettiness if it weren’t so sad for the same reason, to the debt crisis, or more precisely, the chronic fucking economic plague that is Europe, to a potential war between Iran, Israel, and of course when it comes to fighting a Muslim country, you guessed it, the US, to an all too ignored humanitarian crisis in Syria, and just for a cherry on top of this cluster-fuck collage, a global economic Recession that even China is beginning to reel from. We now live in a world where hope is found between a rock and a hard place.
And with this sad reality firmly in our conscience, our generation, which is our current twenty somethings and younger (myself included because I’m currently 22) has shied away from the responsibility of somehow trying to change, or fix, or even bother to deal with, the problems that we’ll inherit from a baby-boomer generation that coming off of WWII somehow managed to leave the world in a condition almost equally as bad. It’s not to say that we didn’t try to make any sort of difference. How else do you think we have the first black president in American history? College kids. The undereducated, yet highly liberal and idealistic 18-24 year olds who believed that business as usual in Washington was coming to an end. Why else do you think Republican state legislatures have been so adamant about voter registration laws that prohibit the ability to cast a ballot in swing states around the US in the coming election in November? Because they believe there is actually a voter fraud problem to be dealt with? No sir. It’s because they believe in the old American creed of when in doubt, limit the civil liberties of your opponents on false pretenses. I want to be angry but I can’t. Cause God bless em’ they know how to game the system whether it be discrete or in plain sight. Anyway, the man who was supposed to lead us into a new era of change has somehow become bogged down in the everyday realities of this sad world. What seemed so transcendent just four years ago seems like blind naivety now. And I truly believe with the dearth of the image of Barack Obama that our generation held, an image personified by the timeless Shepard Fairey photo (Who by the way is currently facing a lawsuit for his use of the photo to make his timeless image – it’s funny in an ironic sort of way), truly decided to give up on looking up to any individuals. There are no more heroes, not because there aren’t any to be found, but because we are too cynical a society to accept them, too quick to find reason to discredit them. Hell, the man who did more for cancer than any individual ever, Lance Armstrong, just gave up fighting a witch hunt to plunge his head on a spike for cheating at a grown man’s pointless bike race that is only run in order to give sponsors the ability to push their brand in unknown and irrelevant parts of Spain and France. God forbid we allow the man to live as the symbol he is, of someone who defied the odds of a life-threatening disease to inspire an infinite number of sick individuals while simultaneously starting a non-profit foundation that has raised millions of dollars. Yet, somehow all of his positive contributions somehow evaporate with an accusation that 99% of us don’t even care about but only know about because it’s drilled down our throat but the same ESPN re-run every hour.
All I’m saying is that there was once a time when great men came about to enlighten and lift the spirits and attitudes of the masses. Men such as Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mohandas Gandhi are the men the history aspires us to be. That’s why there has been a reinvigoration of their famous black and white photos from LIFE magazine recently among hipsters and those on the dark reaches of Tumblr who like the pictures but know nothing of the men. These individuals like that these men were famous and cool but have no idea as to what truly made them so. Traits such as courage in the face of adversity, sacrifice in order to push the boundaries of an imaginary line drawn in the sand by people who fear what they do not know, and lastly, and that which I believe most important, modesty. They did it for a cause, and not for any sort of applause. They did not seek self-gratification nor did they hope to be able to profit from what they were doing. These were people with the most profound of abilities, yet they knew that their power was nothing without their humility, which is nothing but a result of their intelligence and wisdom.
I truly believe that is where the fatal flaw in our society lies. A combination of reality television and excessive greed has brought us to a place where the most important thing is to make a quick buck, get your fifteen minutes of fame, and maybe write out a few tweets while you’re at it. That’s why people like Kim Kardashian are allowed to happen. Because being famous for the sake of being famous has for some reason become something to aspire to. I grew up in the age right before the true advent of the Internet as we know it. I used to use Britannica Encyclopedia to research for school assignments, I used to have to wait until my mom was off the phone in order to be able to connect to a 56K dial-up modem and sign into my terribly corny AOL account to be able to AIM chat with a few female friends. I remember Saturday morning cartoons and Nickelodeon. When late night television was All That and Keenan and Kel, when Toys R Us was my version of what is today the Apple Store. A place where you could go for no reason other than to just be there. I remember collecting baseball cards and playing Pokémon on my Gameboy. I remember playing my Sega Genesis and going to my friend’s house because he had the new Playstation 1. But now I see kids at the same age playing on their new IPhone, Ipad, Xbox 360, and laptops. Meanwhile every bookstore and toy store is slowly but surely going out of business. I used to care. I really did, about educating others on what was truly important in this world, about the value of character, about all the lives we vicariously live when we read. As Will McAvoy, the daring but overly pretentious and preachy protagonist on Aaron Sorkin’s new mediocre television show, The Newsroom, claims, “I was on a mission to civilize.” But I guess somewhere along the line I realized that maybe my efforts all along have been useless, and in the end, you can’t save people from themselves. So as I watch the most recent negative campaign advertisement between portions of what was once a trusted source of information, the news, I wonder whether they should do the same thing MTV did when they took Music out of their official name and own up the fact that they’re in it for the money too. And while I’m at it, maybe I’ll turn on The Daily Show and wonder how and why Comedy Central has the most honest news shows on television. Maybe I ask for too much, or maybe the fact that I think I’m asking for too much reflects on where I believe the state of society truly has gotten to. I figure I’ll find the answer at the bottom of this glass. And if you’re curious, why yes I’ll have a refill. And make it neat.