“I feel I owe you an apology. We have a rule: Never free a mind once it reaches a certain age. It’s dangerous and the mind has trouble letting go.”
-Morpheus, The Matrix
“…mothafuckas who thought their ass would age like wine. If you mean it turns to vinegar, it does. If you mean it gets better with age, it don’t”
-Marcellus Wallace, Pulp Fiction
A few weeks ago I had a get-together which I meant to write about mainly because I was ashamed of how I conducted myself. My alcohol tolerance is a lot lower than it used to be and I was sillier than expected off three glasses of scotch.
But that’s not what I’m ashamed of. Rather, in my drunken state I got into a discussion with two acquaintances of mine about the sad state of the world. This is a conversation I have undertaken with one of these two when sober and we argued about it then. So while drunk and with no filter for my words or control of my volume it was bound to be an exciting and mutually respectful discourse.
Without getting into specifics, I was advocating sweeping global change and a complete rejection of the monetary-market system we live in, citing the extreme poverty which not only exists but is getting worse every day. My acquaintances (I’m not sure if they were drunk or sober) rejected what I had to say, and maintained that things work as they must. So what I am ashamed of is how I responded to their round rejection of new ideas; I got louder, used profanity and called their intelligence into question. Over the following two days I apologized to them both via text message for any disrespect I showed them.
Now I wasn’t looking for any kind of return apology (and frankly I hate mutual apologies because when two grown men allow themselves to be vulnerable simultaneously it has to end in gushing, hugging or other such faggotry), but it wasn’t exactly like I flew into a rage simply because we didn’t see eye to eye. In fact, I was provoked, and at the time I wasn’t in possession of the faculties to take it in stride.
See these acquaintances are, like most people, very much invested in the system we live in, and to their credit they have done well enough to support families. I’m happy for them and I wish them continued success, but their success puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to looking at things in new ways.
They perceive any new idea or dramatic overturning of the status quo as a threat the comfortable existence they have eked out for themselves. So instead they rejected my ideas on a few different grounds.
“Look at all my money, though.”
First and foremost I was told about how as first-generation immigrants they didn’t have the things I had as a kid (not realizing the irony of using a negative excess of the system like immigrant poverty as an argument for the system I suppose) but simply through hard work and without the benefit of an education they had made lots of money and could afford a comfortable lifestyle.
Someone said this to The Riddler once. Batman later had to save that person.
When someone doesn’t even understand where money comes from or how its made, I find they say things like this. The logic is, essentially, “If I have money, things must be working well enough.” Its like finding a seat in musical chairs and thinking, “See, everyone can get a chair if they try.” This logic reminds of a very minor line from a skit on DMX’s album, It’s Dark and Hell is Hot:
“You ain’t never rich in this world”
We would all do well to remember this.
Next I was told how the change I described could never be because people are naturally greedy accumulators. This is simple misanthropy masquerading as fact, and it is a symptom of our lifelong conditioning to believe the very worst about our fellow man. But there is no such thing as human nature, just human behaviour which is a response to the stimuli received throughout life. People are like dogs; treat them wretchedly and they’ll behave wretchedly. Nurture and properly socialize them and they’ll probably be okay. Teach them that they’re only as good as the amount of money in their wallets while bombarding them with advertisements encouraging them to consume and you end up with what we have today.
“I Used to Think Like That When I Was Your Age”
Yet still, up to this point, I wasn’t even mad.
And I even got a picture to prove it.
But then Acquaintance A joked to Acquaintance B that he used to think like me and that one day I would grow out of it. Now I happen to know for a fact that Acquaintance A has never thought like me in his life. And what Acquaintance A doesn’t realize is that I am not suffering from youthful communistic fervor. In fact, I eschew all political platforms.
Seriously, check my facebook, bro.
Instead, I was advocating a “Resource-Based Economy
” (Start at 1:13), something neither of these two acquaintances had ever heard of, so I really don’t see how they could have graduated past my level of thinking.
But even though I knew his claim was bullshit, I was galled beyond measure to see that he really believed what he was saying: He somehow actually believed that his greater number of years living in this madhouse of a world and his blithe acceptance of the status quo had made him expert in some way that I was not
Imagine spending your whole life here and thinking it somehow gave you some unique insight on how a ‘sane’ world should work.
I get where this comes from; the old have few advantages over the young, the only one worth mention being wisdom. But simply existing for a bunch of years does not give you wisdom, and when someone tells me that I, an individual who has been to more places and seen more shit than they have, will grow out of something, I can’t help but feel a little indignant.
And this is pretty much where I lost my shit and came out guns blazing; I cited my life experiences, my travels, my military experience in places they had just read about, my actual inquiry into the matters we were discussing, and of course my post-secondary education. I also added that I paid for that last item out of my own pocket because it seemed like that’s all they respected. It was kinda of like ripping a huge fart in public; it felt good to let it out but it alienated the people around me.
But really, there is just no polite way to say “I ain’t lookin at you dudes, I’m lookin past you,” (especially when drunk) so I don’t know that I could have defended my position without being adversarial. I just feel that I really needed to disabuse them of this notion that age alone grants some special insight because its a big part of the problem with the way the world is.
And if these acquaintances ever did in fact think the way I do now, what happened? I understand a certain degree of necessary conformity to get by in this world, but why lose that edge, that passion to see things get better?
“I mean, what happened?…Did your balls drop off?…Hmm?…”
I know that I shouldn’t be so hard on others because I am by no means the living embodiment of the change I want to see. However, I can’t stand resignation in the face of problems. And I can’t stand the avoidance of discomforting thoughts. But mostly, I can’t stand how age weakens your most noble convictions and strengthens you most base ones.
Still, I meant every word of my apology.