Print this pageAdd to Favorite


The Duct-Tape Generation

I have a fear that someday a group of young people will come up to me with a look of agitated anger and snarl, "Thanks for screwing up the world for us!"

In defense I might try to claim, a la Billy Joel's ‘We Didn't Start the Fire', that it is not really my fault. But would it be absolutely true? Were we the generation of Boom, or are we the Duct Tape generation?

Collectively we have ventured through life wearing the label ‘Baby Boomers'. We were the ‘boom' that occurred in the frivolity and euphoria of being ‘winners' and the perceived glory of saving the world from tyranny; thus enjoying the economic ‘boom' that victors are allowed.

Baby Boomers are not really a category that defines each of us on any merits of accomplishment, rather just a biological situation. Still we all ventured out from adolescence with the ambitions to make the world better.

So, have we?

Nobody should ever pretend that young people are not smart- really smart. Remember how smart we were?

In our youth we were engaged in things that we thought mattered, even if only for the moment. We well understood the nature of slogans and causes and identifying such with others as a community of issues and concerns.

In the beginning we, like every generation, were awed by the wonderment of the bold, new world seeking unanswered questions.

In the 1950s there were no questions, only answers. By the 60s there were no answers, only questions. During the 70s there seemed to be neither questions nor answers.

For the years after, everything got too busy. Besides, we already had defined enough issues we all wanted to solve in our lifetime. It was not necessary to ask more questions, rather to begin to seek the real solutions that would define the immortality of our earthly footprint. We were determined to succeed, because the alternative was to end up like Charlie Goose!

Here in Parrot County there is a guy named Charlie Goose who easily gives any parent all the ammunition they need for an anti-role model to their children. Charlie is the poster-child for the worst of what can happen to a human being. Everything about Charlie Goose is a mess.

Charlie lives alone in a broken down mobile home along Highway 69. His cars, his truck, his yard, most likely everything inside his trailer (although nobody has ever been brave enough to venture there) and everything he claims to define his life is held together with duct tape.

Parents relish playing their ‘Charlie Card' for any array of situations; "if you don't do you your homework you will end up like Charlie…Charlie talked back to his parents and see what happened to him…if you don't eat your vegetables you will grow up to be just like Charlie."

Charlie is akin to those grotesque ogre characters of ancient fairy tales that parents used to scare the wits out of disobedient children. Hey, I have been a parent, I understand the temptations of bribery and iconic manipulations; those without sin…well…

Folks figure that if it wasn't for duct tape Charlie would have expired long ago. The plastic, blue tarp over his roof is secured to the trailer by duct tape. The cardboard window in his truck is duct taped to the door. His dog has duct tape around his collar. I once saw his shotgun and the stock had duct tape to keep the split wood held together. I had once heard that he even mended a calf's broken leg with a duct taped splint, but I can't confirm this.

Perhaps our generation, our culture, has become more like Charlie's life than we might care to admit.

We all know about Duct Tape. It is an easy fix for many problems when there is not the time or the resources to fix things right, just Duct Tape it! Yet, often the temporary fix becomes the permanent fix. When the old tape begins to weaken we just add more tape rather than fix it right.

Soon everything in our broken world is a mass of bulging duct tape hiding the problems still deep within. It is easier to just add more tape than to stop, remove all the gunked up mass, clean off all the sticky stuff and fix the problem from scratch, with quality materials for a lasting resolve.

In earlier days there was a clear sensitivity to unsolvable problems. We all needed the causes, slogans and ideals to define ourselves; who we were and who we wanted to be. Yet, there were those among us who discovered that slogans and causes were powerful tools to manipulate people's thoughts and desires.

While we evolved, determined to ‘make some kind of difference', those other few evolved in a different way. They became addicted to the formula of manipulating folks' sensibilities under the guise of causes and slogans. They learned early and often the triggers of compassion and fears using words not deeds.

They never intended to fix things long-term, only patch things up short-term... with a kind of duct tape. In fact, they seem to have a selfish interest to keep things broken. They may have used different colors of duct tape to make it more appealing, but always the masking of real solutions became a consistent tactic.

Now, about this point in the article, every reader's political defenses should kick in.

Of course once that happens, emotions will take over. But here's the reality, duct-taping is done by everyone in charge, not just one political persuasion over another. I mean, isn't that the problem? Isn't it impossible to solve problems with emotions?

Have we evolved over the course of our generation to have turned our lives over to people who don't have the wisdom or the skill, perhaps even the inclination to fix anything right?

When things go wrong in this world, and things always go wrong, there doesn't seem to be many skilled, crafted people around, waiting with their large toolbox, assorted with all kinds of precision instruments. Instead, there are only those who stand there with a smile on their face and their rolls of duct tape.

Somehow, in review, I wonder have we only duct-taped the important problems we identified so long ago, satisfied with temporary solutions without any real, lasting results… Duct Tape Economy, Duct Tape Foreign Relations, Duct Tape Education, Duct Tape Social-Reform, Duct Tape Justice, Duct Tape Equality, Duct Tape Energy, etc, etc...

I often wonder about the secret of the 60s. Maybe it wasn't about free anything-maybe everything always has a price; that ‘Love' really meant ‘let's party' and ‘Peace' really meant ‘sure, why not'. It couldn't be that simple. It shouldn't be that jaded.

Was it always really about ‘me' and never about ‘you'?

Many years ago the writer, P.J. O'Rourk once described our generation as, ‘… a Generation Lost in Space'.

At the time, I thought he might be right. Now, I pray he is wrong.