Hey kids. Happy Thanksgiving. I haven’t been writing much of anything lately, with all of the traveling and cooking and eating and sleeping and hanging out with friends I haven’t seen in awhile. Mostly sleeping and eating and not working out. I’ve started a Facebook page for this site, something I should have done ages ago, so if you’ve ever wanted to go talk to the five people that read this blog regularly, now’s your chance.
So just because I’ve been half-sauced and food-drunk the last few days doesn’t mean I’ve stopped thinking. The thoughts may have been coming in at a slower pace but they’re still coming, dammit. Watching The Avengers Monday night with my niece, I happened to be multitasking (texting a friend) which led me to think about Captain America. (My friend, if he were to be drawn as any comic book character, would be Captain America.) Of all of the heroes in The Avengers, I find Captain America to be the most compelling. Much has been made (by me) about my complete devotion to Loki and his particularly delicious brand of poshly accented crazy, but that is simply the Tom Hiddleston fan in me. The adult in me is a Captain America fan.
I don’t want to get into a protracted comic book conversation, because I honestly never read any about Captain America. I’m more of a Hellboy, BPRD fan, and I really don’t give a rip about Marvel and its (majority of) pansy, UN-loving superheroes. If I hear one more “He/She/They aren’t worth it…” — cue lowering of the gun/sword/knife/arrow/laser — speeches, I may ruin my favorite shoes with my own sick, but Captain America is the grownup in the room. Always. And I find that even the eternal adolescent in me craves that.
You see, I believe that regardless of what we say, modern westerners want someone who actually believes in something. Someone with clear ideas about who and what they are, the courage to stand for those ideas, and even the courage to die for them. The problem is that most of those principled grownups don’t seek validation in politics or celebrity, don’t find their worth in the hot lights and roar of applause. And the general public doesn’t know they want that, because we don’t know what the hell we want. We’re told that the only person who matters is us — you — and our highest goal is to actualize that self. Or something. Even spiritual matters have been overtaken by the individualized search for a personalized, customizable god who will validate our every whim and desire.
But we aren’t happy, even when we have everything we’ve been told we want. We live in a state of constant dissatisfaction: rudderless, empty. And yet, just looking at our entertainment culture, we crave real men and women. We pay $20 a pop to watch actors in spandex pretend to be men of action, hopefully in a manner convincing enough to leave us feeling as if we’ve witnessed something worthwhile. Our culture is awash with overpaid actors pretending to be men of principle while the culture-makers tell us that the world is grey, that principle is old fashioned, that conviction is out of date. De passe.
But our money tells us otherwise.
And yet we lack the knowledge, the context, the courage to explore ourselves to discover and define fully-formed convictions that will give us more insight into who we truly are. We are all a mess, but that doesn’t mean we always will be. Or that we have to be. We desire reality but settle for a cheap facsimile. And we have an inkling that this is going on, but we have no idea how to change it.
In the eternal words of the great philosopher Chris Cornell:
Nail in my hand
From my creator
You gave me life
Now show me how to live
We want this. Show me how to live. And so we seek it out, often in the wrong places, and we’re told that to be an eternal adolescent suckling at the teat of the Nanny State should be our highest state of consciousness, never having to think, to worry, to do anything but play. Yet this goes against our basest nature, the desire to be and believe and have the ground under our feet and to think about something or someone outside ourselves.
And so what have we become? Nothing every other age has not bore witness and suffered from: a generation of men raised by women; a listless, apathetic mass so impressed by its own enlightenment that it becomes blind; a myopic generation willingly selling its freedom in exchange for empty promises of fulfillment, purpose, truth.
Can we hold back the tide, or are we f*cked? You know the answer. Doesn’t mean we go down without a fight.