Philosophy, Psychology, Nerdisms, Writing from the Trenches

Posts tagged “america

Society’s Existential Crisis

What a bright and beautiful Tuesday morning. Time for some philosophical ramblings on the state of the world.

It seems that everyone wants to ask “what’s wrong with the world today?”. The fact of the matter: nothing.

As I was listening to the insanely giddy bubblegum pop of the late 90’s and early 00’s (I like to bounce around to Nsync {take that, Justin Bieber}), there seems to be a great division between the world before 9/11 and after. The terrorist attack that rocked the nation has shaken us into a societal existential crisis.

For generations, America defined itself by its enemy. Communism (Russia, Cuba, Vietnam), Korea, Nazis. Before the string of wars that dominated the past century, America defined itself by isolationism, expansion, as well as a myriad of other ideals. Now, we are no longer defined by our enemy. Terrorism is a nebulous concept, too nebulous to help America establish an identity. We can fall back on the original tenets of freedom, equality, the American dream, but those are all nebulous, as well. We lean on philosophers and founding fathers in an attempt to get a firmer grasp on what these ideals mean specifically in order to live up to them. The fact remains that these terms are loose and open to interpretation.

For those who think there is a revolution coming, you’re a little late. The revolution is already happening. We are in a state of flux. Four of five societal tenets are changing. Socially, we are more connected than ever before. Your world is only as private as you make it, and even then, anyone with smartphone can broadcast your business to the interwebz. Economically, we are on rocky ground. Politically, bipartisanship is prevalent.

Intellectually, that’s a big one. Arguments and lawsuits over intellectual property, self-publishing vs. traditional publishing, media piracy; how can one define what an idea is worth?

There is a generation gap. I’m not talking about ‘I’m young, you’re old’, I’m suggesting there is a fundamental difference in how Gen-X and Gen-Y think. Why learn anything when all you have to do is look it up on Google? We have forgotten the importance of knowledge.

Without knowledge, there can be no wisdom. There can’t be any wisdom without dignity, either, but that’s a topic for another day.

We need wisdom to break through the societal existential crisis. We need to reflect upon the past in order to create a future instead of running headlong at a light at the end of the tunnel, hoping it’s paradise and not the oncoming train. America is a nation less than 300 years old. Growing pains, paradigm shifts, reorganization; all these things need to take place.

Who are we? What do we value? What will our legacy be?

When the people one hundred years in the future look back on the 2010’s, what will the legacy be?


Aside

They’re Everywhere (who is ‘they’, again?)

Do you know there are 7 guns for every 1 person in the United States?

I have no idea if that’s true. But, someone told me about it this weekend. I’m pretty sure he was a cult recruiter.

I sat at Starbucks, catching up with a friend. We do this once a month, usually Sunday afternoons, a nice leisurely chat. We talk about everything. Culture, books, politics, movies. She was my AP US History teacher and, damn, if I don’t love history. It’s amazing, speaking with someone who holds 30+ years of knowledge and education in her head.

As time wound down, I caught the eye of a stranger sitting at a nearby table. He adjusted his wireless headphones a few times and sucked on his pen, occasionally clicking a few keys on his keyboard.

Middle-age, hair graying at the temples, and astonishingly alert for someone who should have a head bent over their laptop.

He was listening.

At the time, I’m sure we were waxing philosophic (I’m still paying good money for my education, dammit).

He stood and approached our table, pulling the headphones down around his neck.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “But, I couldn’t help but overhear that last part of your conversation.”

My eyebrow cocked of its own accord, as it is wont to do when it hears crazy. You could help it. Turn up the headphones. Stumble across a cat video. Stand closer to the steam wand.

I couldn’t help but overhear means I was eavesdropping because you mentioned buzzwords.

“And?” I asked.

“I’m in charge of an organization…”

My eyebrow lifts higher.

“That is interested in protecting the American Constitution by bringing lawsuits against the government.”

“Mmhm.” By now, skepticism and suspicion oozed out of my voice.

“(gun statistic)”

“That’s interesting.”

The conversation continued, citing statistics of questionable origin. Keep in mind, I was talking to a US History teacher. US History often comes up in our conversations. I’m a writer, she’s a brilliant educator. Creativity loves to hang out with us.

“Have you heard of the Georgia guidestones?”

My eyebrows were back under my control, and I lowered them to a glare. “No.” (They exist, by the way, check them out here)

“They were written by a group you would know as the Illuminati.”

Jackpot. Crackpot jackpot. I love conspiracy theories.

Anyway, by promising to visit his website, I was able to save both myself and my mentor. Keep your eyes open. The Illuminati were more than just a plot point in a Dan Brown novel. If I join, does that make me a Templar…or how does that work, exactly?

Not sure. And that’s not even the craziest thing I’ve heard at Starbucks…

Besides joining a grassroots conspiracy organization, what can I bring to these maybe Templars? Not sure about that one, either, but if I remember anything from Lara Croft, the Illuminati want to control time for NO REASON IN PARTICULAR!!

Maybe next week, I’ll be updating my tumblr from my iPhone on a quest for the Holy Grail. I’m taking a fedora. And a whip.


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