I have bad news. The boomers co-opted “woke, yo“. I am young boomer. On the day I was born Shiro Ishii was granted immunity for war crimes, Eugene Bullard received the Croix de la Légion d’honneur, and Russell Langelle was arrested after meeting with Pyotr Popov. There were five more years of boomer births. We are old enough to be grandparents.
I don’t know about you, but for me, the definition of uncool is to have my grandfather using the patois of my generation. So . . . to hear Charlie Rose say he is woke is messed up. There is another problem with the phrase. It is the furthest thing from aware. To be woke is to become an automaton dutifully spouting the orthodox newspeak of the day. Your world in ninety seconds memorized and recited.
1984 didn’t quite happen the way Orwell feared. It happened. To be woke is code for being a disciple of the orthodox zeitgeist. One is aware of how the establishment must be fought against. The Establishment is a code phrase for a particular tribe that doesn’t subscribe to the orthodox zeitgeist. That the leadership calling out the evils to be battled is itself corrupt, authoritarian and socialist is conveniently forgotten.
The Struggle is Cold Peas
The boomers achieved their utopia as the previous century came to a close. Since then we have aged and the most radical thing we can imagine is refusing the cold peas in favor of the sweet potato mash on the buffet at the senior home. The men just want the TV remote and quiet.
Our kids and grandchildren aren’t having our idea of utopia. We wanted to be free to behave as our whim drove us to behave without suffering from the consequences of our choices. Our personal rules are fine. People need to respect our personal rules. Your personal rules are wrong and should be beaten down like a rented mule.
We blindly got old following our whim and willfully ignored what this did to our kids and grand-kids. Trump is a generational phenomenon. He is payback for our success being bratty toddlers in grown-assed bodies. Our cherished freedoms are reasons to want authoritarian rule.
One of my angels is perfectly fine with ripping up the constitution and coronating a king. As he sees it democracy at this scale–a worldwide empire of 400 million people or so, is both morally bankrupt and so bloated as to be ineffective. The exponential pace of government regulation and law creates a detrimental effect on its ability to provide the services it promises. The constitution interferes with what he feels is the role of government–to provide mercy on a scale impossible for him as one man.
Out of 400 million people, if 99% are mostly happy, that still leaves 4 million who are not happy. The way the propaganda is spread, there is no reason to make headlines out of 396,000,000 mostly happy citizens. No, the headline will be “4 million citizens suffer because of government’s failure to do its job.”
Obama’s signature achievement is the Affordable Care Act. As he left office the oft-cited 32 million uninsured Americans were still uninsured. This time, however, the regulatory cost imposed by the Affordable Care Act made it impossible for insurance companies to sell compliant health insurance plans and stay in business. Premiums have skyrocketed. The 32 million who were the object of all that government bloviating can’t afford the insurance plans offered on the Health Care Exchange. It is cheaper for them to pay the penalty imposed by the IRS for not having insurance.
We Need Cocoons with WiFi
For the yungins there is no penalty for buying insurance only when they need it and then dropping the plan once they’ve been taken care of. So, they don’t. Plus, they are annoyed with boomers for our blithe assumption that we can perpetrate on them any whim that strikes our fancy. Telling them that they have to fund our health insurance so we can get medical care for the damage we did to our health in our youth–it’s not being heard as a good thing. More dead boomers is a better thing.
Us boomers are getting old. Some of us are old. We keep marketing this trope, that X is the new 20, 30 or whatever. Fewer of our children and grandchildren are willing to play along. The kids are not fooled by our claims that a fifty-something is twenty-something young at heart and thus eligible for the affections of a gen-x partner. The obesity, the pill bag, the Twelve Step medallions, are all testimonies to the bogosity of our claim to the fountain of youth. Our healthcare is what makes their insurance expensive.
My son didn’t blink on hearing that my friend felt that the answer was a collapse of the empire and the coronation of a king. It made sense to him that a genocidal dictator could purge the country of boomer dead weight and straighten out the mess his generation has inherited. He pointed out that some kings began dynasties that lasted centuries.
Not every king, even every genocidal king, is ipso facto evil. Some fare well in retrospect. Mao’s legacy has mouldered into a fond affection for the cocoon he created for evil uncles (邪惡的叔叔). Democracy was supposed to improve the odds that you would get a good king. That went well. What defines a good king, though? One that coddles you cradle to grave in exchange for signaling your fealty? A king that is a champion who will fight your battles for you and get rid of those nasty right-wing nazis?
To be woke is to understand:
- There is something/someone to blame for all the ills, personal and communal, that is to be battled against and defeated. Nazis are just the fashy enemy of the day. Give it time, there will be others, starting with opioids.
- Happiness is possible only if you have privilege. You are apostate if you identify as happy.
- Utopia is both possible and worth implementing even if we have to kill you.
I am apostate. I am the reason for your troubles. My adjectives: white, anglo-saxon, protestant, boomer, cis-hetero male, consertative, christian member of an establishment denomination, upper-middle class childhood, opposes abortion, believes in increasing the availability of guns and the kicker, was once a member of Berkeley’s longest surviving collectively run cab business-Taxi Unlimited. I am woke, yo.
Not Your Bae’s Awareness
I am woke to the failure of the proffered gods to meet our promised needs. Every election cycle I am promised that this Pimp Daddy will tax those evil, rich Nazis and give me a check. Obama said we could get free college, free health care, and money for our hoopties. I’m still waiting. Trump is President. The fucking John is President. So much for being woke.
Ralph Northam is the Democratic candidate for Virginia Governor. It’s the same few tropes we always hear. Gillespie is a rich D.C. insider who wants to take away your medical care, is racist, homophobic, wants grandma to stop eating wet cat food and eat kibble instead, and is a friend of Trump. Northam is the reasonable one who will get us jobs by retraining us in the trades. Were I a dutiful citizen of the orthodoxy I’d open the junk mail from the DNC and memorize the provided talking points.
I am not woke the way some wish I would be. My big beef is the arrogance of some who insist I behave myself and participate in the communal psychosis. This site and its primary author are deliberately defiant of those who want the world to come correct. My literary home is a village of the absurd. This is where the odd ones are. We are woke to different things than that.
The Way I am Woke, Yo
I am woke to Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. I remind you that over two thousand years many bloody kings have tried to kill us and end our revolt against the establishment. Every king that tried discovered that his genocide made church membership explode. I’m not asking for more genocidal kings so we can have more Christians.
But . . . Caesar made us a circus act. We survived him. I am a Christian. I follow Jesus, the martyred carpenter of Nazareth who died and rose again over 2,000 years ago. The way I am woke defines how I live.
Jesus said to him, [John 14:60] “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The last 15 years of my life have been a journey as I learn what it means to put grace first. I’ve spent 1400 words building to this: the establishment will happily pimp you out. You will never win against it. There is one who died a long time ago that can give you a winners way of life. It is He the I AM who I follow. John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The great I AM fomented a revolution that continues today.
And Old and Simple Answer
Most of what is expected of those who are woke drives them to misery and resentment. While propagandizing inclusion and love they foment hate and exclusion. Only the devout can work to prove their devotion and gain grudging acceptance into the fold. Even then there is no forgiveness. We are still immutably fucked because of our heritage and personal history.
I saw this on Facebook and still like it, “resentment is like taking poison and expecting the other person to get sick.” My health began to return to me once I renewed my labor to forgive and to surrender to Christ. I can talk the talk with the best of them. Walking . . . is a constant labor I still fail to fulfill. The old and simple answer is this: treat others as you wish to be treated. Love kin and enemies alike. Foment change by humble service to prisoners, elders, children and anyone else who will accept a self-less, small act of kindness done with great love.
Matthew 10:14, “And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.” Don’t waste your time trying to win a war of words with those who disagree with you. Serve those you can serve and move on.
Our Secret is Out
Boomers, you are known. When your kids were young they had to know how to manage your behavior. It was survival. It’s a marathon from infancy to agency. The kids need us for a dozen years or so. So, they behave as they need to in order to get what they need and survive. That’s how they know us. We, with our willful defiance of establishment oppression, garnered their ire. Our brattiness interfered with our kids ability to thrive. It should not be surprising that they are relieved we finally started going to church regular and re-discovered John Bradshaw. The kids are woke, yo, to us.
We taught them fear and loathing. We said that the legion of boogeymen we blamed for our bad behavior was a real threat. The kids should be afraid of that legion. Our abiding aversion to misery became a battle cry to insulate our children from the ten thousand things we believed would harm them. Now, when they face adversity, those we protected don’t know how to cope.
Our secret is out and the kids are pissed. They are not having our whiny, self-entitled, blaming, co-dependent tantrums. Trump is in office because Hillary is the ultimate nightmare boomer woman. Our next president will not be a boomer. It will be someone younger and I’m not sure it will be someone reassuring to my old-fart boomer peers.