Serapeum

5th century scroll which illustrates the destruction of the Serapeum by Theophilus (from Wikipedia)

We are in a collapse.  Yea.  There really isn’t a great deal that I can do about it, I made my bets long ago and they sure as hell didn’t come in the way that I wanted them.  Doesn’t prevent me from moving on and getting things done day to day.

I think the collapse is going to be a long, drawn out affair.  since I am pushing 60, I doubt seriously that I will see the end of it.  Some of my longer-lived contemporaries might see it start to get some real traction, but my ge-ge-generation will be in the ground before the fewmets well and truly hit the fan.  That this is more than somewhat unfair in the long-term is a bit of an understatement.

That leaves my generation the conundrum of what to do in our waning days?  We caused the problem with our greed and shortsightedness, but we don’t have the time to execute any serious change to the system in order to forestall the collapse.  We sit here stagnant, starting to receive unwelcome junk mail from the AARP and being offered senior citizens discounts at restaurants.  We are all trying very hard to figure out how to retire to our comfortable dreams of golf and sloth.  But the worldview and dreams that led us to this impasse is proving rather fragile in light of the chickens currently coming home to roost.

What we can do to help stave of the length and severity of the coming reformation is considered anathema to the way we have spent our lives.  We have built our lives around profligacy and waste.  We eat microwavable meals off of plastic dishes which we throw away.  We measure our affluence with disposable cars which mark us as “trash” in five years.  We have no concrete grounding other than the subtly whispered and subliminal idea that if we have more, we can be more.

What the boomers need to do is start becoming an example of where the world needs to go.  But I really can’t see this happening as I remember clearly the choices that the same boomers made in the 1980’s.  I remember back in the early eighties, I read a book named “Voluntary Simplicity” by Duane Elgin.  Fairly good book, printed back in the day before the Boomer’s turned traitor and became even more despicable copies of the men in the grey flannel suit who were their fathers.  I used to try and get folks to read it, but the ideas of enough and living simply were rejected then and now by an entire generation along with the teaching of Ehlich and Carson.  We went for the gusto and created a culture that strip-mined everything that it could lay it’s hands on.

So, now the boomers, if they want to be remembered by the future as anything other than the self-absorbed children that destroyed a world, will have to make a complete change in their lives.  They will have to take a lead role in the destruction of the monumental temple of the self-indulgent material that is their current legacy.  They will have to take their place in a world of sustainability instead of retreating to well-defended islands of excess and calling it their due.

The reason that I don’t think that sacrifice and maturity will ever color the boomer’s legacy is simply that they don’t know any better.  They have been force fed a false life by Madison avenue and their social betters for so long that they have no remaining dreams of their own, just a distant longing caused by a materialist culture that has told them they don’t have enough.  Martha Stewart is their high priestess, passing off transient fashion as culture.  Mitt Romney is their Archbishop, telling them that wealth made from destruction is the same as wealth built from creation.  They have created a tawdry little world, built of tackiness and self-importance, all dusted with a light coating of fraud.

What I think that I am saying is the the generation that spawned the hippies and watched the last great movements of the civil rights period are probably not up to the task of changing enough to teach the world a new way.   They want to claim responsibility for the efforts that came to fruit in the sixties, but in truth they were bystanders only.  The anti-war movement, the civil rights movement, and the environmental movement were all the last gasp efforts of the generation that came to age during the great depression.  The boomers just made a lot of noise and grabbed credit for anything that they took on as that week’s fashion.  None of the movements took hold, none of the changes lasted.

Now is the time for these movements to come back to the fore.  But it isn’t going to be the boomers that will take the lead.  Oh, I think that there will be a lot of boomers who will try to run out in front of the movement and claim it to be their, but it just won’t work this time.   The generations who will be doing the change will see the “leaders” that the boomers try to put in place as the Quislings that they are.  No one is going to pay any attention to the tired ravings of a egomaniac defending his summer homes.

So keep an eye out.  We are moving slowly into a storm.  The rain will be coming stronger in the coming years.  The youngling will start taking charge soon and the boomers will weep when they see the remainder of their greedy “dreams” taken from them in their dotage.

Parting shot (Thank you Mr. Michaelson for the idea)

Trees and Lake

Through the trees at Burnt Bridge Creek

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3 thoughts on “Serapeum

  1. Great post, great writing. As one of those younger ones who I suppose is taking at least somewhat of a lead on living a different sort of life, I don’t have any particular anger at boomers and other generations who just accepted the abundance provided them and looked the other way when it came to the attached strings. I had my own early stretch of life in that same mind frame and . . . well, I’ve come along to the idea that we’re just animals, after all. It’s no surprise we took that abundance when served up on a silver platter. It would have been stranger if we’d turned our backs on it.

    The point now is to do things differently and not hide from the reality that’s making itself quite known. You can’t really look away from the attached strings now, because they’re everywhere. Better to do one’s best to get out of the trap now, as much on your own terms as possible.

    But no, I don’t expect much of a future for pension plans and retirements. And I don’t imagine I’ll do too much weeping for those who suffer under that reality. Not because I hold a grudge, not because I’m angry, and not even because I think those who lose those things deserve it–just because that’s the reality we’re all going to be dealing with. Best to get on with dealing about it rather than cling to what’s bound to disappear and wail when the inevitable happens.

    Or we’re all dead wrong, technology will save the day, and in 30 years I’ll be ruing the decision not to create a retirement plan. I highly doubt it, though.

  2. Oh, and love the Burnt Bridge Creek picture. I remember living in apartments on 49th ST, at the back end, with poor, channelized Burnt Bridge Creek running maybe 100 feet from our back porch. Those apartments were basically built in the old flood plain, of course, and in 1996 I was a depressed adolescent who liked to sit in my room on the second story staring out at the never ending rain over the winter. The field back there always started to flood during heavy rains and the rains, obviously, were mighty heavy that winter. I watche the flooding spread a bit more every day from my bedroom window and the water ended up coming right to the edge of our back porch, but didn’t get up another inch or two to start coming into the apartment.

  3. More and more people seem to be slowly waking up to the idea that our empire is gasping its last breaths. I honestly don’t know anyone of my generation (Gen X, now 37 to 52 or thereabouts) who thinks they’ll see a nickel of social security. We all think the system will be well and truly crashed by then. Many, if not most, seem paralyzed by this knowledge, so they party on while the Titanic begins its inexorable decent. But some of us are cobbling together flotation devices before we take the plunge into the icy waters. We already know there’s no life boats waiting for US.

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