Jun 23 2016
June 23rd this year is a big day.
Its a big day because the United Kingdom is about to potentially make a really stupid decision and leave the EU. ( A really stupid decision).
It's also a day that I made a really stupid personal decision and it set the course of the rest of my life, and not necessarily for the better. Six weeks after graduation, I foolishly got married. Now its 37 years later and the damage that one decision caused still lingers.
I remember senior year, imagining what the future was going to be like. I had envisioned getting married and having children, but it certainly was with a very different idea of what that was going to be like.
I of course also envisioned going into the Navy, but the idea of being an NFO in a twin engine propeller aircraft was not in that dream. ( Fortunately, that decision was not one I have to take responsibility for-and all things considered, worked out all right).
When I imagined what the country and the world was going to be like, well my vision of the future was nothing like the way the future actually turned out. Certainly I never expected the country to fall into the political morass the first 16 years of the 21st century have proven to be.
Being the Star Trek fan that I am, I expected the world to improve and not just in technology. I believed that the country would continue to be true to a baseline set of principles and that the American Dream would come true for not just me, but most of my fellow citizens too. I knew that economics would go up and down, but I always expected, in the long haul that things would get better. Technology was going to improve our lives-and we would all be better for it.
Boy, that train sure went off the tracks, didn't it?
One of the benefits of living 14 of the last 17 years overseas, is that it gives you a chance to see how other countries do mundane things like infrastructure, and daily life in general. As a typical xenophobic American, I always had assumed that America would always do things better.
14 years overseas experience have disabused me of that notion. If anything the US is barely treading water, if not being slowly pulled down beneath the surface of the water.
If you are an optimist deep down like me, to come to that realization that country is not advancing, but failing, is truly a sad one.
Because what kind of world have we left for our children? Clearly not a very good one-even if they will be able to document the journey across the river Styx with their cell phones and Go-Pro cameras.
Now some people want to put the blame for the decline on just one generation, the baby boomers. Of which I am proudly a part. I reject that notion-because the evidence clearly shows it is cross generational. Boomers to Millennial,we all bear a piece of the blame for not creating the world that we could have. And should have.
And so the end result is that we have not left a better world for our children at all. And we have no one to blame for that but ourselves. We failed to keep our eyes fixed on progress, after a certain subset of Americans decided it was more satisfying and more profitable in the short term to destroy companies and people, rather than work together for a better long term view. I believe that came about due to the acceptance of a vision of the future that should never have been acceptable, no matter what generation you were a part of.
Little decisions, that seem inconsequential at the time, rise up and become your fate. That happens to individuals and to nations.
Alternative histories talk about a "point of departure", the point where the timeline changed. Certainly this happens in people personal lives and it happens in the lives of nations too.
But what was it all for? It can't have been for the rotten place the United States is in today. It has to have been for something more?
It should have been for something more.