When we were all young, everyone kept telling us that we could be whatever we wanted when we grew up. After all, we lived in America and that was the one place in the whole world where you could achieve your dreams. This was the land of milk and honey. People flocked here for the multitude of opportunities and just being born here virtually guaranteed you a life other countries could only dream of. The way people talked about it, you’d have thought the streets were paved with gold or something.
Now all I hear are reports about how Americans need to be trained for the jobs available in the market. Nobody is, or ever should have been, telling children, “when you grow up, you can be whatever you want.” What they should have said is, “When you grow up, you can get a job in mediocrity if you take out loans to go to school and, after fifty years, maybe you can have a fairly comfortable life if your expectations aren’t too high.”
I’m going to tell my kids that if they want to achieve their dreams they’re going to have to lower the bar or take that bar and use it to fight off everything that wants to steal their dreams away from them. I will teach them to make hard decisions and push them to the brink of insanity so they are hardened and ready for the world. If I had twins, I would force one to kill the other in order to double its strength. My children would be known to foam at mouth and bark at unfamiliar sounds. I will have found them all their first jobs well before adolescence. It would be at a foundry and the low survival-rate would further distill my brood.
Spankings would be distributed completely at random. They would understand the horrible arbitrary nature of existence early on. One day I would show up with a puppy and a wheel with numbers on it. I would make the youngest spin the wheel and whatever number it landed on would be the number of years the dog would be allowed to live. Upon it’s “death date” I would take the dog to my friend Tim’s house where it would continue to live out its life in secret. The children would never be told the truth and each Christmas they would get a postcard from the dog’s ghost. Their hate for me would grow until, eventually, one of them would attempt to destroy me. This child would be forever my favorite and everything I possess would become theirs upon my death. Until that time, they would be cast out into society and immediately become estranged from me. Frankly, I can see no other way for a child to achieve their dreams in the new American job market. I’ve been told that the recession is over but that the economy would never be the same. After a long hard labor, our country has bared-down and pushed out a stillbirth, silent and useless.
Despite the continuously high unemployment rate, some of us managed to acquire jobs in our respective fields. A few of us are even prospering and enjoying ourselves, while many more are taking what they can get and working for the sole purpose of survival. I know that, by definition, survival is living but I bet I could still argue a pretty good case against it. We are all so ready to pat ourselves on the back as hard as we can and for what? We weathered the storm and have nothing to show for it. We idolize the past like it’s so mythically far away or long ago that it is completely out of reach. We’ve ignored its lessons and have settled upon a lesser future than we deserve. Our parents and grandparents lived the dream and rode rockets to the moon while we’re selling off the space program like a beat up old car. There will be no missions beyond the sky for us. It has been decided that it’s just not practical anymore.
It was never practical. None of it.