Monday, December 20, 2021

Five. Oh.

I was born on this date in 1971, in the middle of what would become known as "Generation X". If my math is correct, and if not Jim will correct me, that makes me 50 years old today. Five decades. Half a century. 

That is a pretty long time. 

It also means that I have seen a thing or two along the way. 

The country I was born into is very different than the one we live in today. The America of 1971 was almost entirely White with blacks in a few enclaves, meaning we were closer to a monoculture than at any time since. You didn't need to press 1 for English, especially since no one had touch tone phones. The class divisions were less profound, our family headed by a doctor was neighbors with both working class families as well as other professionals. 

The changes in the last 50 years are profound and shattered what to that point was a nation at our apex. We won the race to the moon, had emerged just 26 years before my birth from the Second World War as the untouched victor. The pace of technological advancement was just accelerating and it appeared we were about to enter a golden age of prosperity. I wrote about this in 2020, pre-Covid, in this post: The Dumbing Down Of America

As a child in the 1970s and 80s, 2020 seemed like a long way into the distant future and while we couldn't predict what that would bring, it was assumed it would bring a progressively better society and that space exploration and great technological achievement would make life immeasurably better. Colonies on the moon and even Mars were just assumed to be the natural near-future next steps.

Now look around. Do you see a plausible scenario where the U.S. could return to the moon in any capacity, much less a manned mission to Mars or anywhere even further away? N-word please. The American nation is on the tipping point where we will no longer have enough people to maintain the existing technological infrastructure, much less create new and innovative technological wonders. You see this in places like South Africa where racially based hiring is leading to an inability to maintain the city water supply. The more likely scenario is that things start slowly shutting down as the AI isn't developed fast enough to replace the tech workers. The cold stone truth is that we are further away from manned missions to Mars today than we were on the eve of the first moon landing.

Those words seem more apt with each passing day. Few of the changes in the last half century have benefitted most people and even the stuff people point to in order to claim things are better have often made things far worse.

The most significant theme of my 50 years on this earth is The Great Lie. You know the one. 

Keep your nose clean and your head down, go to school, go to college, get a decent job, pay your taxes, get a mortgage, save for college for the kids and for retirement. Do this and you will be happy and prosperous. 

We almost all believed it, bought into it and trusted it.

Then slowly more and more of us started to realize that it was all a lie and moreover that the people pushing The Great Lie knew it was a lie the whole time. 

More than the Cold War or the Age Of Information or the War On Terror, The Great Lie has been the facet that has shaped who I am more than anything else. We focused on all of the shiny new technology or the latest manufactured crisis, and in doing so were blind to the rot that was happening beneath the surface like a home with new siding and windows while the foundation crumbles below the ground. 

If you want to know why I seem so angry, it can all be traced back to The Great Lie. It was the promise of a brighter future based on a social compact of being good boys and girls in return for safety and security, but as my generation gets older and what used to be called "retirement age" is on the distant horizon beckoning with mockery, it is apparent that our future will be neither safe nor secure. 

It didn't have to be this way. We were headed for the bright future that was promised us but it was intentionally hijacked before we got there. Those responsible have a reckoning coming. 

Looking back over my lifetime, the one constant is my wife. We started dating when I was just shy of 16 and we will be married 30 years next year so for more than 2/3 of my lifetime she was there. Ups and downs, moving around the country, one kid then another and then a string of them totaling four boys and four girls, she was there. When life kicked me in the nuts, layoffs and business closures and health issues, she was right beside me. I don't know how /ourguys/ without a spouse or serious significant other manage. I suspect many don't because I wouldn't be able to manage. 

This is a weird birthday for me. I know it is supposed to be this big deal turning 50 but on the other hand I am healthier than I have been in a very long time. When I was 40 I was already on the slide downward physically and going the wrong direction but now I feel much better and am optimistic about the near future from a health standpoint. Most days I feel much better than I did when my 40th birthday rolled around. On the other hand, I am in a very different place now than I was then (see: Fore? Oh! for my 40th birthday post). It will be up to the reader to decide if that different place is an improvement or not. 

With my age now becoming for the first time a significant factor, there is a sense of urgency in my mind. Not so much accelerating the collapse so it happens when I am healthy enough to collect some Bolshevik scalps and survive the collapse, although that is certainly a factor, but more that time is becoming a more precious commodity. My kids are older with only 3 of the 8 still under 18 so the child-rearing phase is coming to a close and a new era is about to start. It is an era when you start to take note of people your age beginning to have serious health issues and even dying, and things like life expectancy charts get a little more real. 

Truth be told, I am looking forward to the upcoming years more than I was when I turned 40. Being in your 40s meant, at least for me, clinging to what you think are the last vestiges of youth that really were gone long ago. Today I am pretty content and confident with where I am and just as important, I am steeling myself for what is to come. 

Whatever that might be, bring it on.

15 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday buddy. I'm one ahead of you but feel the same as do many GenXr's. Our day is coming. Stay safe and healthy.

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  2. Happy Birfday Bro! I'd say 'Party Hard!' but methinks Amish country, ain't much gonna be shaking there Aye? But I do agree w/your premise... I think that sadly, we, we unhappy few, we Band of Brothers are the last of the TradCon 'Muricans... and yeah, we got royally screwed.

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  3. Well Happy Birthday! Today is also the birthday of a chat friend of mine in Fla. (71 y.o.) I believe, and he has all of our similar traits and then some amongst this broad spectrum of ideals and common threads. Had my ol' lady lived long enough to read your words concerning your wifey,she would have said, "See honey, that's the power of a good woman." I read once that a good woman is the reward for a mans hard labor. I have also read that growing old ain't for sissies and reflecting back to what America once was from about 20 years back to what he have currently is something to behold. Best blog post I will probably read today, Arthur. Cheers/

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  4. Happy Birthday Arthur! I'm only a few years ahead of you, but can completely relate to where you're coming from.

    My 50's have been all about finding peace with who I am and how I relate to this Clown World we find ourselves in. It has not been all that fun a ride, but then again I have discovered a certain amount of calmness/acceptance within myself I never knew I had. I suspect that had things been as screwed up in the 1980's/1990's as they are now, I'd probably be spending my middle age years in prison. Thankfully I've developed enough confidence over the years of rough living that I have no fear of the future anymore. It's not going to be what I want it to be, but whatever it is, I'm up for the challenge. I believe you are too.

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  5. Despair not, Arthur. To paraphrase Sir Douglas Adams of 'Hitchhiker' fame, the first fifty years are the toughest. Then the next fifty years, they're the toughest, too. After that you go into a bit of a decline.

    You might consider doing what I've done - once I hit 50, I started counting backwards. Next birthday will be 49, then 48, and so on. Before you know it, you will be drinking underaged again, sneaking into R-rated movies, copping feels under the stadium bleachers and lying to your math teacher about your dog eating your homework. Second childhood is the best childhood (or so I've been told).

    Anyways, congratulations for making it intact to the half-century mark, and I hope you enjoy your day. Fifty rounds for fifty years!

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  6. Happy birthday, Mr. Sido! And your arithmetic was flawless, both here and in your previous post about those dangerous ex-treeeemists in the military.

    This post, like so many other things, makes me feel old. On this day in '71, while you were making your debut, I was halfway through my senior year in high school, down there in India-no-place. And even then, my school was in the process of being destroyed by the Africans being bused in from their part of town. The more things change ...

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  7. Happy birthday to you. It's a long hard road to that 50 year milestone. I could say it will get better from here, but you wouldn't want me to lie to you.

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  8. Happy birthday Art. The fifties were pretty good to me, hope they are for you as well. Your posts strike many chords with me. I’m with you when you say “bring it on”. You gotta bring some to get some as we used to say back in the day.

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  9. Happy Birthday, Arthur !! Wish I could say it gets easier from here, but it does get more "interesting".

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  10. Once I turned fifty, I didn't want to have my birthday acknowledged, so I won't say anything about that. I will say you are one lucky bastard. I didn't find a good woman until I was fifty, and I had to raid the geriatric ward to do so. Enjoy your day, and do something extra for your wife. She deserves it. Cheers.

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  11. happy b-day. I'm 60 next week and often nod in agreement on your perspective. The most obvious lie on the social contract is the economy. after 60 years of work I can see inflation wiping it all out. its not just the current crop of thieves in DC that caused it either. multi generational corruption has been screwing all of us at the bottom. Beware the man who has been betrayed with nothing left to loose

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  12. BTW, I say "old man" with the upmost respect since you had to earn it.

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  13. Happy 5-0. Fellow Gen-Xer here ... I'm 4 years into my 5th decade. As Mr. Dakin said, I'd rather not count or celebrate birthdays at this stage. Who knows how long we have before the shitshow collapses, so I try to enjoy each day and not dwell on the past, or worry about the future, which I have no control over. I can only control how I respond to it. Oh, and I make sure to pet at least one other dog, besides my own, every day. Best therapy there is.

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  14. Happy birthday! As we age, our crystallized intelligence keeps getting better - that's the part that synthesizes information and allows us to better impart it to others. You've got a good twenty to thirty years of that left ahead.

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