Thursday, February 13, 2014

It's not a virtue if you had no choice

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.” - Socrates

I noticed there's another one of those smug, you-kids-get-off-my-lawn memes kicking around the Intertubes. This one attempts to stake out the moral high ground by relating a story about an old lady chewing out some hapless store clerk when he suggests to her that she start using a re-usable shopping bag. Instead of simply declining the offer, she supposedly launches into an extended self-righteous rant about folks of her generation being green before anyone knew what "green" was.

Why were we geezers green before anyone had ever heard of Earth Day? Well, according to the crone, they bought their RC Cola in bottles that they returned to the store, they used cloth diapers instead of disposables, they watched tv on a 6-inch black-and-white Philco instead of 72-inch plasma Sony, they hung their laundry on the line instead of tossing it in a dryer, yada yada yada.

Give me an frigging break. You know why we geezers used cloth diapers? We had no choice. Ditto the tiny television and the washing clothes in a wringer washer. We got rid of both as soon as new and improved options came on the market. As for the pop bottles, you know why we hauled them back to the store? They had deposits on them. Back when the geezer generation had fewer candles on their birthday cakes than they had fingers, every little kid was happy to haul pop bottles to the store because that was like found money. We sure didn't worry about recycling anything else: juice jars, tin cans, you name it, it all hit the trash without a second thought. For that matter, quite a bit of it only hit the trash in the loosest sense: roadsides in this country were pretty disgusting until the 1960s when Lady Bird Johnson began her highway beautification programs.

In fact, if anything, today's geezers were the opposite of green. We all thought there were no limits, both on a personal level and as a society. Dump all the sewage you want in the watershed -- streams will clean themselves. Strip mining? No problem. This is a big country; we'll never miss sizable chunks of Kentucky, West Virginia, Illinois, Wyoming, or Texas. Clear cutting forests? Go for it. The forests will grow back. Ever watch "Mad Men"? It does a pretty nice job of capturing the casual wastefulness 50 years ago of today's smug, self-righteous codgers.

In short, we weren't green. We were oblivious.

My kids are in their 40s now. I wonder what type of ridiculous crap they'll be passing around in 20 or 30 years to tout their supposed superiority over their grandchildren?


  1. When anyone wants to do something it is easy to turn off any green concerns or thoughts, or somehow make it seem like they are doing it in the greenest way.

    I don't think the problem is what we do, just that there are too many doing it all.

  2. I agree with BBC. However, people always resist change and as we grow older we seem to paint our past in a new and brighter light than it actually was.
    the Ol'Buzzard

  3. saw that rant - totally agree with you!


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