I really shouldn’t talk to Bret. We see things so eye to eye, so we tend to reinforce each other’s delusions. Plus, we both have twisted and irreverent senses of humor so we tend to descend into harsh cultural criticism. No matter how we keep it mocking and light, we’re both aware that when we say “Yeah, we’re screwed,” we really do mean it. Cynicism wins out.
But it’s nice. It’s good to have that kind of positive reinforcement, to find someone out there who thinks the same things I do, things we wouldn’t even admit to most people. I recognize what I get out of these conversations though – an ego boost, a little high. We get on a roll and we can just keep going, mutually reinforcing each other.
Today we discussed architecture on campus and its dismal bastardized status. We decided we should start a company together which hires out as consultants to tell clients exactly what kind of bullshit their fancy architecture firm is trying to put over on them so as to prevent debacles like these in the future.
“You mean I just get to criticize people and I don’t actually have to do architecture?” Bret asked. “Well, hell, I can do that all day!”
We talked about politics and agreed there is no real, fundamental difference between Republicans and Democrats. We shook our heads over the ridiculous obstructionism caused by partisan politics in states like California and New York which can’t get their budgets passed. Say what you will about Nebraska, and how conservative it is, at least our state government works. On a fundamental level, it works, and compared to other states it is small. I am always amazed when I visit other states just how much government they have.
We both admitted to a secret and completely age-ist wish to ban people over a certain age from voting because all they are doing is setting us up for a horrible future which they aren’t going to be around for. Our generation is going to have it the worst, because we can see the storm coming and we’re frantically screaming to change course, but all the people in the back of the boat aren’t listening. And we’ll remember just how good the “good old days” were. It isn’t the same for our grandparents, who grew up in the Depression, made it through the war, and raised their children in a time of ever-expanding affluence.
“We were poor,” Grandma Del told me, “but we didn’t know we were poor. We didn’t know the difference.”
That will be the next generation, the one born into a world in which the myth of social security has already failed, the climate has shifted, deserts have expanded, oil has run out, resource wars have become common places, and every major coastal city has an intricate (and expensive) system of dikes and levies. But us, we’ll know the difference, and we’ll know just how we got there.
The optimist in me still holds out hope that it won’t be all that bad; that surely we’re smart enough to figure it out before then, but the realist just shrugs and agrees “We’re screwed.”
Our parents, those millions of Baby Boomers, tell us we’re spoiled and ungrateful. They’re right. We are spoiled and if we aren’t appropriately grateful, maybe it’s because we know what cost it’s going to have down the road, economically, environmentally, and socially, and we know we’re going to have to pay it, not them. And it’s so easy for us to see (higher CO2 = higher temperatures) that we become frustrated and intolerant, which only exacerbates the problem. We need to find a new, more productive approach, a better way to speak to one another.
“These people,” Bret complained “they just think that growth is the answer. Rising population equals rising consumption and that we’ll always come up with new ways to produce more stuff. But they don’t understand that resources are limited and we’re gonna hit a wall. We’re all stuck on this same ball of mud floating in space and that’s all we’ve got: one ball of mud.”
So we shake out heads at the shitty hand life has dealt us and get our bitching and moaning out of the way so we can go back into the world and try, yet again, to do something worthwhile with our lives. And I feel like an overinflated balloon which has finally had a little bit of the air let out. At least someone out there can see some of the things I see (and hope I’m seeing wrong), but that just reinforces the “we’re screwed” belief.
Yeah, I really shouldn’t talk to Bret.