To paraphrase the old saying, “You don’t know you’re insane when you’re insane.” I myself have don’t have that problem as I have always known this much.
We, this round of humans on the planet, are not the first, nor will we be the last to believe the world has gone mad. There are great tomes expressing the madness of the times, the insanity of the direction humanity was embroiled in. We are not the first to believe that humans will soon be a thing of the past, Although we just may be the last on that accord. This is what we do, we repeat a lot of the same trappings of thought, of humanism’s as we go through this progressing and evolution stuff. We also subject the world to the same repetitious actions and reactions while we try to gruntle the disgruntled.
“Historians will view today’s political climate as “an aberration.” Is the thought of Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg. In that I believe she is correct, not only about politics. I also believe that just like those insane folks; People don’t know they are in the middle of a great change or aberration sometimes unless it is pointed out to them. This carries over from not just politics, but the world at large, and what we, us humans, do with time, with that history, while we create it. Yes, we don’t necessarily play by the rules when it comes to time. What our memories and thoughts do with the past, and how that compels the present, is fascinating to witness.
“Was that yesterday?… Or five years ago?” Memory and recall is under constant scientific study. We can enhance our own memories, strengthen our recall abilities, and manipulate our thoughts to be that of good, bad, and indifferent. We can also create false memories, and are susceptible to believing constructed stories even long after that encoding happened. What is known about our mental abilities, and disabilities, should be considered more gray, than black and white. Facts, experiences, and emotional descriptors, are just some of the things that our brains rearrange to appease itself. A protection mechanism like no other, the computer that hacks us.
In looking into that subjective part of life, that part that tells me that I am experiencing things a little differently than others; It’s apparent that everyone experiences their own as well. A shared experience, a sight, a sound, and even a smell, can, and often is, filed away differently than even that of the person next to you. I think people understand this when they get down to thinking about it. But I don’t know if folks really apply that understanding as much as their intellect should elicit? I find examples of this everywhere, in personal interactions and conversations, to the larger picture, and the world at large. It is part of this communication business we need to work on if we are going to make those strides we humans yearn for, and dream of.
Being in the Middle
We have had a breakout session of expansion of this human evolution. The descriptions that we give our decades, our generations, and our society have exploded with titles. The Greatest Generation, The Baby Boomers, Generation X, Y, and Z, are just a few of the names, the labels, we associate with people. The Atomic Age, The Cold War Era, The Electronic Age, The Space Age, The Computer Age, and the Information Age, are just a few of the labels we give to the times around us. I myself lie somewhere at the very end of the Baby Boomers, and the Generation X descriptor that followed years later. I say that because when all of that Gen X stuff came out, it didn’t describe me at all, or my friends and contemporaries. It did fit the younger kids, those who were about four years younger, but not us. So we were somewhat left out, tied to the Boomers, by siblings, parent age, and mannerisms. Yet tied to the X’er’s as well through some similarities and world events. In looking back, it was an eye opening at an early age to how all of this generational business affects lifestyle, decisions, and of course, our memories.
My memories were shaped not only by news and images of Vietnam on TV nightly, but of the stifling pollution. The eight mile lines at the gas pumps, and changes in the world happening faster than we could ever see. I witnessed the parents deny, the children embrace, the stances taken, and the reasons why. The ebbs and flows of culture and world, wars and peace, and the emotions that came along with them, either jointly felt or personal. These are my memories, whether real or imagined, they are backed up by a good amount of recall, and plenty of consequences. But even then, I get struck in awe by the announcements that it has been ten years since… fill in the blank. That it has been a few years since so and so passed away… It’s not only associated with those recollections, but also with some bigger ones as well. Some of those thoughts and beliefs that hold a close and passionate meanings are based on things that really didn’t happen that way, except in your mind. Yes, we do some amazing acrobatics with our inputs and memory as we file stuff away.
This happens across every part of life
The reason this is important to point out, is not just for the exercise of not repeating history again. But to express that history in a manner that transcends some of the generational angst, a context of thought more than a content of events. We can examine the events, we can decry the “other side,” and our consternation will either rise, simmer, or disappear into apathetic dismissal. Personal memories and belief systems, Political ideologies, religious tenets, history itself, and the exercises in building all of this is being somewhat diluted in these digital times. Redefined through misapplied social mores, and flat out falsified by ideologies of all kinds. When we passed along information from one generation to the next, it was communicated in a manner that spoke of the place in time, the thoughts that were present, and the difficulties and progress that was made. The experiences were passed along, not just the content.
The communication gaps, styles, and splintering, this time around has almost completely degraded that part of the human experience. That part that tells the Greta Thunburg’s and her generation that we did it too. We weren’t all involved in the destruction. The work we did cleaned waterways and toxic sites, the Superfund cleanup’s from the 70’s, the toxins removed from public and private places. I wonder what they would think if they saw the yellow and red rivers of toxins that floated through our major cities? I wonder how she would have been affected by lead in the water, or air quality that felt like breathing bleach? We have been working on this for a long time, but in essence, our work and our experiences have been reduced to bits and pieces of information alone. The human elements and struggles, lawsuits, and the way we felt about it all reduced to the historical tag lines. That part of actually speaking about these things is lost, and the next generation struggles more and more to accept or understand… everything.
One thing that has appeared over the last decade, at least in my observations; Is the almost imperative passion that people tell their stories, their personal and public ones. It comes from professional authors, public figures, a series on PBS, and even the unknowns like myself. There is a compelling reason for this, and it is about more than people may understand. That part of our stories, the ones that tell the experiences, the emotions, the proper context of thoughts and actions while they occurred, is and has been lost. To recapture the commonality of the human condition, the ties that bind us all, our stories and that part of communicating one on one, or to a group, in person, or through the individuals story, is what does all the gluing. In the past there was no medium for that to slip away from us, it began a little with TV, but it was freely dislodged in this information, and digital tribalism age we live in now. We now are fully engulfed in a piracy of our most valuable quality, communications, getting along, being cogent, and clear about what we are saying to each other.
The deeper reasons are also pretty apparent over the course of history, and the course of life experiences. When we know one another, when we come to understand just a little bit about someone, it is almost impossible for the hate to anchor down, the divisiveness to reach a fever pitch, and the unity of just being another human being going through life is provided a foundation. I know plenty of people that I completely disagree with on many issues across the board, but I know they are people, going through this life things like anyone else. That is the reason for these words you are reading right now. The reason I share my thoughts and experiences, my outlooks and perspectives, introspect and what if’s? With the sharing of my pitfalls, my struggles, my points of light and craziness of thoughts, it is an exercise in just that, communicating my story, sharing my life, so that others can know they are not alone, or at least comforted that they are not as insane as that dude… Either way, it’s being human in a world that now has a medium for taking all of that away.
It occurs in politics, and the spin put out, it happens in the information that people glean from internet pages instead of Uncle Hugh who was there and lived through it. The lives people lead are all extremely valuable, their experiences and outlooks should not be grouped into a label, or a generation, including this one. The stories tell the information with the conditions included, and the emotions folks went through. They are the most important part of this whole human connectivity, and we are less without them.
Anyone with any years behind them understand the differences between information and experience. In this information age we live in, the experience is being lost, the need for tradespeople at an all time high because we need that kind of education, the experience kind, not just the information kind if we are to break through this change we are enveloped in. At a perilous point of losing hundreds of years learning, the handed down experiences of generations that have come before us. If we don’t understand the little things that are happening, while the bigger things engulf us, we steal from the future the hard earned knowledge that was rightly theirs, and become that era of time pirates.