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Kids These Days TM

Today’s rant is on a phenomenon I like to refer to as Kids These Days, or KTDTM . KTDTM refers to the fact that most modern philosophers, thinkers, gurus, shaman, rabbis, priests, lamas, high school principals, and prophets have a tendency to state that things are worse than they’ve ever been, that people are more unethical, have worse values, talk to each other less, eat worse food, fornicate more, kick more puppies, and generally suck more than ever before in history. And the fun thing is at every point in history the KTDTM phenomenon has been along for the ride.

I don’t buy it. The world has changed technologically, yes. But I don’t think people evolve or devolve that quickly. It takes tens of thousands of years for species to develop, and I think human history is pretty damn cyclical. So you think civilization is collapsing because there’s a huge gap between the rich and poor (and this has never happened before)? French Revolution. Reign. Of. Terror. Look it up. My favorite sign of the impending apocolypse is the spawning of tons of mean-spirited reality shows about lame, stupid people. But the ancient Romans really came up with the whole bread and circuses, opiate of the masses thing.

Is technology and the infernal interweb ruining our ability to relate to each other and destroying the fabric of society? Consider what Mark Twain had to say about telecommunications in the year 1890:

“It is my heart-warm and world-embracing Christmas hope and aspiration that all of us, the high, the low, the rich, the poor, the admired, the despised, the loved, the hated, the civilized, the savage (every man and brother of us all throughout the whole earth), may eventually be gathered together in a heaven of everlasting rest and peace and bliss, except the inventor of the telephone.”

Testify, M.T.

If gluttony (which we call the obesity epidemic), lust (promiscuity and the ensuing STDs), avarice (corporate greed), wrath (violent crime), pride (Paris Hilton), envy (coveting your neighbor’s BMW), and sloth (damned video games) are particular problems of the twenty-first (or twentieth, or nineteenth) century, why Dante know so much about them? The Buddhist-based book I talked about recently, Healing through the Dark Emotions started to piss me off for the same reason. If people are really especially escapist and immoral and without compassion in the modern era, why did the Buddha need to spend all that time under the bodhi tree figuring out how to let go of attachment and be compassionate and teach others what he discovered?

Could it be that the human condition has always been pretty much the same? That we suffer and feel joy, we cause pain and we feel compassion, and that perhaps we could learn from our history instead of negating it by claiming that everything is new and unique?

I tell you, Kids These Days TM just don’t know their history.

2 comments to Kids These Days TM

  • Sr. Benedicta

    I have to agree with you though along with cycles there is also ebb and tide. I do believe there are, now and then, rest pauses between the times when the pot boils over again. And there was also the fall of Rome (and other great and mighty civilizations) so it does not mean that in a certain culture and a certain time where the fabric of society has again come again to the point of tearing that it, too, is not verging on collapse. I think that it can be, at times, worse. Not that it has never been so before. I think that some people before the collapse of those civilizations may have been sensitized to this course and tried to change it without success. That is also truly cyclical.

  • MissM

    All good points. It’s difficult to predict how chaotic things will get before the system re-births itself. My main gripe is with the fact that Americans as a culture have so little connection to history and seem to think that everything the observe and experience is totally unique and new. I am by no means a scholar of history, but I feel that it has as much to teach us about being human as the more modern forms of science and technology.

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