By Mark Cote
I began my lecture the other night by telling my students that neither the future nor god exist. Seemed the right thing to do. The time had come to stop pretending everything was ok. The Capitol had been breached for the love of God! All restraint was lost. Drastic times called for drastic measures. After all there were only four of them, and three of them were women. If things got physical I had the upper hand. It didn’t take them long to realize I was serious.
There were no guarantees. This wasn’t in the curriculum. Nothing to rely on for backup. I was working without a net. We were going deep.
It wasn’t like they were unprepared. A new world order was exploding all around them. Across the globe political, social and economic upheaval carved the shifting sands of an unstable orgy of postmodernist manifestations into reality. Nothing was sacred.
Literally. Nothing. The hens had come home to roost. The only sure thing was that I was the enemy. Old, white, male, heterosexual, conservative; the Patriarchy personified.
They came in heavy. “Your generation fucked it all up” they pointed out with great conviction. “All that peace and love bullshit. It was just an excuse to get high and get laid.” I muttered something about it being the sexual revolution and who was I to argue? Not to mention the fact that the music lent itself to getting lost in a haze of mind-altering substances and multiple orgasms. To quote Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with”.
It was before the scourge of Aids after all.
I felt a shift in the energy. They were having none of it. A young woman in the front row leaned in, sneering through her Hello Kitty face mask, finger pointing…”it’s people like you, well, not you personally, but, people like you who own and control everything and are used to getting your own way and now things are changing and people are angry and people like you don’t like what’s happening and are pushing back and you really all just need to stop.
It’s over. Let it go.
She was wearing pajamas and fluffy bunny slippers.
For this I went to grad school.
Truth of the matter was she had a point. The Cardinal sin of my generation was the need to be our children’s friend instead of their parents. Clearly a knee-jerk reaction to our parents’ generations authoritarian ways. The last thing my parents wanted was to be my or any of my sibling’s friend. They just wanted to be left alone.
Things were changing in revolutionary ways. This shit was disruptive. Identity politics begat division. Division begat conflict. Conflict begat our current state of tribalism. Dug in. It’s us and them. No one was talking to anyone. Accept my students. And they are telling me it was my (generations) fault.