Title - Kevin Michael Vance - writer/musician/purveyor of raw materials
Kevin Michael Vance
Writer - Portland, Oregon

January 12, 2024

The World As We Know It

Recently, I had discussions with two of my younger friends that I found to be rather discouraging, and more than a bit disheartening.  Both were women, and whether or not that has any bearing on what I’m about to say I will let you, the reader, decide.  Both discussions, which started out simply as idle chatter, soon escalated into emotionally charged denouncements of men, times past, and decades they deemed reprehensible.  

  Let me explain.

  The first discussion regarded, strangely enough, one of my favorite actors Kurt Russell.  The second was my pronouncement to a friend of mine, whom I love, that you cannot apply twenty-first century morals to the twentieth century.  The aforementioned statement is referred to as Presentism, which is defined as thus- uncritical adherence to present-day attitudes, especially the tendency to interpret past events in terms of modern values and concepts.  Of which I, personally, will not allow myself to be a part.  The impetus, basis, and or reasons for these discussions are irrelevant.  We were in fact engaged in “small-talk”.  But what is of great relevance is the underlying meaning and conviction I gleaned from the minor and then major debates that followed. 

  These two individuals (one in her mid to late twenties, the other in her mid to late thirties) believed that before the advent of the twenty-first century this country was morally bankrupt, and that the rights of anyone and everyone were trod upon daily, possibly even hourly, by, I might add, specifically, men.  By this reasoning, they believed that they could accurately judge, and thus, condemn any and all men.  And then, concurrently denounce and vilify those most miraculous times of my treasured youth- the eighties and the nineties.  Underneath this apparent seething disapproval and harsh criticism of a time and a place they knew absolutely nothing about- because, of course, they were in fact not yet born, or only toddlers- and a gender with which they were intimately unfamiliar, was such an overwhelming self-righteous sense of zealotry it actually made me sick to my stomach.  They believed that they were inherently better than I had been, and I can only assume that this erroneous certainty was based solely upon the fact that each of them gave me the strong feeling that they were a part of America’s first and only “progressive” movement.  Moreover, they accepted as truth the fact that they were inherently privy to more understanding and empathy, because they had climbed some hitherto unknown mountain of accelerated reform.  Or, more aptly, because they were born during the time of our most kind and benevolent overlord- the internet, and its’ demagogue of a step-child- social media.  Furthermore, I got the distinct impression they believed that I, “back in the day”, might as well have been a Homo neanderthalensis, scraping my knuckles across uneven ground, bashing females over the head with my club and dragging them, without their consent, into my dank cave.  And all of this was done during a time and a period in human history they ignorantly, inconsiderately, and conceitedly had decided, without any evidence to support their sweeping generalizations and unfounded claims, as the literal, figurative, and metaphorical... “dark ages”.

  Dear reader, I am not yet THAT old.  I can still remember what it felt like to be young.  I remember being a young boy playing in the mountains of Montana.  I can recall writing and drumming and trying to find myself and my identity as a teenager.  And then, as a young adult in my twenties I was playing music, still writing stories, actively working out, and searching and yearning for love that was desperately beyond my grasp.  I was married in my thirties and found the love of my life.  And after years of wedded bliss the person I trusted most (my mistake) set out on a mission to destroy me... emotionally and mentally.  Why even at the ripe age of forty I was still writing, still working out, still searching for the love and acceptance that had thus far eluded me for decades.

  What I was not, (anyone of my dear and trustworthy friends, most of whom I have known for decades, can attest to this) was an insensitive misogynistic abusive man.  If you recall, both these women’s claims were that all men, not just some, but ALL men, were insensitive misogynistic abusive men... “back in the day”. 

  I am here to tell you unequivocally and without a single shadow of a doubt that it was, in the past, the past that I lived, never thus.  None of my friends was the misogynistic racial brutes these two women painted them out to be.  When I explained that not a single man in my life was ever abusive or improper to women- not any of my male friends... not my brother, my father, my uncles, or my cousins- one of them retorted, rather insouciantly, “not that you know of.” 

  All I could do was roll my eyes in disgust.

  Who are they to judge my family, my friends, my past, and me with such audacity?

  Realistically, and if you will allow me to wax somewhat nostalgic: when I was a young man, I was most assuredly confused and actively searching for a better life.  I was hopeful for my future.  A hope I desperately struggle with as I painfully move through the trials and tribulations of being a 54-year-old white heterosexual male, none of which, by the way, I chose, in the twenty-first century.  I made mistakes, as we all do.  I moved on, and I hope I learned from said mistakes.  I attempted to treat people with the respect I demanded for myself.  I judged everyone, and still do, by one axiom- his or her actions.  For it is within our actions that we as human beings have control.  And I lived, as I still strive to live, with a sense of honor and forthrightness, still yearning to be the best man that I can be.

  I find it extremely disconcerting that this younger generation feels the need and the inalienable right to be so quick to judge, so quick to condemn, so callous in their rapacious enthusiasm to crucify people on the cross of what they deem as the ultimate expression of human excellence... “social justice”.  In fact, I find it abhorrent that they actively seek out the chance to vigorously deride and humiliate someone... anyone. 

  You are pathetic and weak if your existence revolves around the degradation and denigration of another human being, any human being, regardless of gender, religion, race, or sexual preference. 

  It would appear that this generation believes they are incapable of making mistakes, and believes that it is their “privilege”, nay their right, to ridicule and demean people; some of whom are older, wiser, and more experienced than they will ever be.

  Honestly, what sort of generation actively maintains that they are the chosen ones, the enlightened?  And that everything positive and productive and progressive that has occurred, ever, for all time, is due in part to the indelible changes they believe they are making in the world; while simultaneously disregarding every single bit of positive and productive progress that was ever made in the past.  

  In truth, I weep for this generation.  But not in the way you might think. 

  I weep for the fact that they cannot simply work a retail job and afford the most basic studio apartment.  I weep for the fact that they grew up with social media and that it now influences and infects every single aspect of their lives.  I weep for the fact that they no longer get to experience those things, which make life livable, joyful, and good- anticipation, patience, quiet, communication, a drug-free childhood, stillness, sex (many Gen Z’s are not having intimate connections with anything other than their phones).  I weep because they will never experience the joy and thrill of driving cross-country without the safety net of a cell phone.  I weep because they will never feel the brimming anticipation of waiting, not so patiently, for the next installment of Star Wars, or the next Buffy episode, or the next Harry Potter book.  Everything in their tumultuous lives is immediate, “on-demand”; every one of their needs has been placated and pandered to until they no longer have the capacity for critical thought, they no longer question, they are no longer inquisitive.  I weep because they gorge themselves on sound bites and five-second videos, until their brains are bloated and heavy with information that may or may not be true. 

  For these reasons, and for them, I weep.

  But do not come at me with this foolish certainty that everything before you and your present ideals was crass and cruel.  It was not.  It was different, wholly different.  And it was better in many ways, not all ways... but many.

  "You know nothing, Jon Snow."






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