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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Facade

I did not sleep well last night. Probably because I slept intermittantly throughout the day, that sleep of fending off a sore throat that makes the nighttime a toil. So, as I was wandering around the empty bed, S.O. is working in Santa Barbara this week, I thought it silly to toss and turn so I checked my email... of course. Hasn't the computer replaced the TV as the insomniacs drug of choice? So, there was a link to a speech given by Barack Obama at the recent Take Back America conference. I was struck by his sincerity and 'realness' for lack of a better word. He strikes me as someone who is entirely comfortable in his skin, comfortable with who he is and confident in his ability to do his own life.

And so, tonight, I am watching Oprah as I am washing the dishes and it is all about women who have lived secret lives. And it struck me that there are a lot less Barack Obama's in this world than there are people living secret lives. Even if the secret is something small and not devastating, it is still a secret and it still prevents you from being completely who you are.

But then that is the way our society is set up. We are particularly allergic to peculiarities in human beings and by and large prefer neat little packages, even if they are false. And isn't credit card use chasing that dream? Of being a neat little package? Don't we all think we are SUPPOSED to be neat little packages - logical, attractive, sensibly put together personalities - and I don't necessarily mean just the 'preppy/conservative' types, but also the 'artistic' types and the 'deep' and the 'wild' and the 'bad boy' and the 'quirky'... isn't any type really at its core a facade? Isn't hypocracy really a facade in denial?

We seem to have a problem with sincere truth in this country at the same time that 'reality' is a commodity - on television certainly. If we all felt that we were truly being seen, for who we are, if we all felt that we were acceptable just the way were are in the world; if we all felt that it was OK to be incongruent as a person and have pieces that just didn't seem to fit; would we really be so susceptible to marketing? Would we have elected a man whom, as the media kept telling us we liked, we wanted to have a beer with?

I propose we, America, as a society, are in the middle of an identity crisis. We are, afterall, about, oh... in our 20s as a country. As cultures go we are youthful. And didn't you all hit 25 and look about you and think, "What the hell am I doing with my life!? What have I accomplished yet?"

The problem now is that any accomplishment short of multimillionaire-hood or creativegenius-hood at 25 anymore is considered 'not worthy'. Gone are the days when a woman at 25 with 2 children could think, "I'm contributing to society". Gone are the days when a college graduate at 25 can look back and think, "I did what only, some 30% of Americans accomplish. I've learned so much". Gone are the days when a body can look back at 6 or 7 years of hard work and say, "I've gotten three raises and two promotions".

And forget asking the question at 30! We dare not! At 35, 40... "OH MY GOD! I'M A LOSER!" jumps immediately to mind if you aren't overseeing a vast, wealthy foundation ala Bill Gates or some such. I blame the 'champagne wishes and caviar dreams' dude. Remember him? "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous", Robin Leach. In the 80's? The ME generation, led by, who else, a Republican. It all looked so romantic. Add to that MTV, a randy and budding generation of teens - not that I mean to dis my own generation but... really guys, we did buy it - and you have recipe for overeating, overspending, overdrinking/drugging/smoking. We have tremendous debt in this country. We have a huge meth problem. We have a huge prescription drug problem - and I don't just mean Rush Limbaugh, there are others too. We have a HUGE greed problem. If this is not a "grab all I can get for me" time in our history, I don't know what is!

Its symptoms are all over the place. The national debt. The personal debt in this country and severe lack of savings. The HOUSING BOOM, can I just say... The war! What about this country right now is NOT a facade? Honesty is at a premium in this administration and competance and sincerity are at a premium in the world at large in our country. When was the last time someone did something, they were being paid to do, right and DIDN'T give you attitude doing it? We are so 20-something floundering for direction and meaning right now.

Living anything less than honest with oneself is less than living. It is time we wake up and stop just smelling the coffee! Damnit, drink some and get with it! We have a country to save. We have our own lives to save... otherwise, let's just try to imagine the mental health crises that will arises in this country when people finally are so maxed out on credit cards they need to declare bankruptcy but can't. All the Iraq and Afganistan vets return home from wars unwon and perhaps unwinable. The houses we live in crush us under the weight of thier cost. The latest scandal is pushed under the Rove, I mean rug. The health crisis when our weight crushes us and we have no insurance to cover it. The underemployment crisis.

It's coming. It is inevitable. It's frightening.

4 comments:

demondoll said...

I agree with most of what you said, but on one small sentence- I think people can and do look at themselves and their children and say,"I am contributing to our future" at least once in a while. The problem with the job of parenting (or any other for that matter) is that we get wrapped up in the day-to-day tasks. I mean if you don't stop and take stock of how you help your child make sound choices... I dunno. Sometimes i think "I am contributing to our country's future, but what have I wrought? Is he respectful? Is he strong and happy? Is he learning to be responsible?" and then I have to go eat ice cream.

Yella said...

I know, I know... I am usually not thinking about the kids when I am ranting against society. You are right though, it is a huge contribution, raising great people. I often wonder which is a better/worse message to mine - that I am a contributing citizen in the world and taking time away from them or they are important enough to warrant all my time. There isn't a right answer, I don't think. There are only opinions!

Lulu said...

How sad that I can identify with the whole questioning my worth and contribution to society at 25 years old.

Yella said...

Lulu,
You are in good company. I have never met any intelligent person who, at around 25, wasn't questioning! I believe we are supposed to be. It's just bloody society that asserts that we should "know it all by now"... Bastard society oughta just mind its own business!