This morning I had to renew my driver's license and registration - I was dreading it because this was the first time I've had to do that since all the new regulations were put into effect last year. So I got all my papers together, made sure I had enough money in the checking account to cover the vehicle registration ($732 for local fees, state fees, federal fees, UN Zone fees, climate impact fee, evaporated gasoline recovery fee, road rage education fee, multiple passenger fee[I have a minivan], 10K+ miles/year fee, English-only forms fee and natural born citizen fee), and went down to the neighborhood United Nations General Secretary of State office.Do go and read the whole thing!
Five f****** hours later, I finally made it to the front of the line. I thought I was going to go crazy, listening to all the stinkin' propaganda coming from the televisions - Obama this and Obama that; "Yes we can" crap over and over, Chris Matthews plugging the latest bailout (another one for the newspapers!). Needless to say, I wasn't all that happy once I got to the counter.
So then the fat whale-in-a-standard-issue UN-blue muumuu bureautard looks over my papers, pulls up my file on the screen, looks at me with those beady eyes, behind her stupid square glasses beneath the stupid UN-blue tri-cornered cap and gives a little 'tsk tsk' and shake of her head. Uh oh.
"What?" I asked.
"Well, Citizen 135-222LD, it says here you're noncompliant in your Generations Invigorating Volunteerism hours. You're 32.5 hours short of the requirement."
I've been mulling it over, and I've come to the conclusion that there's only one way to avoid Larry's vision becoming a reality: America needs to grow up.
We thought we were grown-ups once before, back around the forties and fifties. We looked and dressed and acted the part. But the real injustices of racism and similar things kept it from being real. We were like children playing with Mother's high heels and Daddy's hat, but underneath it all we were stubbornly clinging to aspects of our nation's long childhood that weren't good for us, or for anybody.
Since the late 1960s we've been on an extended adolescent bender, tearing down authority as much for the sake of destruction as for any concern about injustice; and the ugly hedonism of the Sexual Revolution took our nation's adolescent rebellion down a dark and dangerous path. We've replaced serious thoughts and philosophies with the kind of relativism that always does appeal to teenagers; "You just don't understand!" has been our constant refrain, when asked to respect traditional laws, traditional morality, or, simply, tradition at all.
Everything about us reflects our national juvenalia. We eat too much junk food, watch too much television, are fascinated with toys of the digital variety. We sleep in and skip church, shop a lot, talk a lot more. We act out on our emotions in ways that are harmful and even destructive. We dress like slobs--like sloppy toddlers, in fact; adult clothing looks more and more like the stretchy elastic-waist pants and washable, colorful tops you can find in the infant and toddler department of any major store, and on those few occasions when we really need to dress like a grown-up (nice suit or jacket for men, skirt suit or nice dress for women) we find that the clothes are surprisingly expensive, and surprisingly hard to find.
We've been easy prey for leaders who promised to fix things without filling in any of the "boring" details; we've selected style over substance as our head of state so many times in the last few decades that this time around we eschewed substance altogether, and went for style only--a fact illustrated by the reality that our president appears to believe he's still running a campaign, not a country.
We've gone from the Woodstock-era slogan "If it feels good, do it!" to the Nike 1980s slogan "Just Do It!" to the present-era's Twitter slogan: "What are you doing?" which looks almost like a progression from hedonism to stoicism to voyerism, in a manner of speaking. Can the world-weary "Why do anything?" be far behind?
It's time to put all of that aside. It's time to grow up. It's time to be able to recognize the difference between adults and children not only by their clothing and public behavior, but also by the depth of their ideas and the seriousness with which they approach the world and its problems. It's time for us to reject as unbecomingly adolescent the view of the world that thinks there are no issues that can't be solved by free government money, free government condoms, or some combination of the two. It's time for us to quit thinking that the secret to staying young is to be our children's best friends, to copy their styles and music and attitudes, and to refuse to progress beyond the age of "I want" and "Gimme" for our whole lives.
The generation that came ahead of our own can't do this, for the most part (though isolated members of it rejected the Boomer philosophy a long time ago, and are already on board). They refused to grow up, and will be the trendiest, hippest, coolest people in the nursing homes--at least in their own minds. But the rest of us have a choice: we can keep acting like they did, or we can rebel in our own way, by going to church every week, believing in right and wrong, fighting the injustice of abortion with all the passion--but none of the drugs--they used when they fought against civil rights injustices, being polite in public, teaching our children to say "Mr." or "Mrs." or "sir" or "ma'am" to adults unless invited to do otherwise, and so on.
And if we really want to drive them crazy, we'll start downloading Perry Como or Bing Crosby tunes to use as our cell phone ringtones.