Dear American Children:
I teach Composition at a University in Indiana, and when the new school year started, I asked my students to write about what makes them angry. And you know what the majority of them said? They said they’re angry their parents got divorced and used them as the ping-pong ball to torture each other even longer. They said they were angry their parents were more concerned with hurting each other than paying attention to them.
And that bothered me a lot. Because I got divorced when my kids were young. And I couldn’t protect them from becoming ping-pong balls. They say it takes two to Tango; however, holding onto your kids as their dad is trying to snatch them ends up looking more like a Rave than a Tango. But the kids don’t know that. They just feel stretched and pulled. And they think they have to take sides like everyone else has. They don’t think it’s OK to love BOTH parents. So they abandon themselves.
Can I apologize to them for this fucked up country? I’ve read a lot of Millennial anger expressed at the older generation: Don’t bitch at us; YOU got us here. And, in a way, we did. But we were the product of our own upbringing, which was much different. We believed what we heard at 5:00, when we turned on the news and listened to reports of the day’s activities. We didn’t have the Internet, where we could fact check every story for the truth. As a single mom, I spent my days commuting to Chicago to work (paying a granny type to raise my kids), then being a loving disciplinarian when I got home, in the couple hours we had before going to bed and starting all over the next day. I knew politicians were weasels, but I trusted the place I worked. Only in the last ten did I watch the place I worked take more and more, while giving back less and less. And when I taught, I had Visiting Instructorships with a salary and benefits, not a two-class maximum (lest they have to pay bennies) that would require government assistance, if it were the only job I have.
I chose to be pretty anti-political because I didn’t have time to really know the candidates and what they truly represented. I know now that even if I had, there wouldn’t have been much truth. That kind of stuff wasn’t mom and apple pie enough. The Viet Nam war opened many eyes to the bullshit of war and the money certain corporations make from it. And — because of my generation — the draft ended (a YUGE blessing). But, even though we now have paid mercenaries like Halliburton starting and fighting our wars, there’s an ever-growing poor class (created by the same government that starts the propaganda that “requires” them to get involved) who have little choice but to sign up after high school, if they want to avoid the fast track to corporate prison.
So all of this brings me to what I am most sorry for (despite the fact that I taught my children NOT to be these things): As a capitalist nation gone vulture, we are addicted to STUFF. And we have used how much STUFF we have to be the indicator of how happy we are, how rich we are, how cool we are and how UN all those things people without STUFF are. We have mastered the great divide and conquer strategy of ancient pre-Rome. Only we have divided ourselves and our Self in the process. And to counter our self-loathing, we have developed more addictions than Merck has pills. We have golf-aholics, shop-aholics, food-aholics, phone-aholics, of course the standard alcoholics and every other addict imaginable. Anything to take us out of our pain and ourselves. And the capitalistic pharmaceuticals (also money-aholics) are making more than ever.
I just read that the biggest threat to our health is loneliness. Think about that for a minute.
All of Washington are power-aholics, but they assuage their pain with money (and from the sounds of Trump’s latest whoops, women — sex-aholism). We have become a nation of instant gratification me-me, I-I adults in kid’s bodies. And rather than just STOP in our tracks and say WTF, we glom on to the newest gadget or kick the dog. I’m sorry the United States has become a Reality TV nation and full of people who care more about getting the latest Apple device (even though the one they have is perfectly good) than how many children died in Syria last week, in a war the US has escalated by creating ISIS then calling them the enemy, then selling them arms “by accident” and “accidentally” droning hospitals full of people they didn’t get the first time.
I’m sorry our world has become inverted: Leaders don’t lead. Ministers don’t minister. Teachers don’t teach. Learners don’t learn. Pills don’t cure. And people don’t govern. How are we supposed to expect our children to love when all we teach them is fear?
Have we broken the switch that sends the elevator back down?
P.S. Happy Birthday, Holly Wood.