CHAPTER INTERLUDE III
Excerpts from the Chief Communicator’s Occasional Log
Who are "The Spanners"?
February 10, 2013
Hard to believe I begin this writing exactly one year ago today. Fair day then, sunny again today.
So much to tell! I’ll continue, here, with other reasons I am selected as liaison, since people keep asking.
I talk with Zephyr about this the most often. We try to puzzle it out together, since he knows me so well. Lately, our conversations center around my demographics.
I explain: "Even more compelling or 'attractive' to the MWC than my personal traits, experiences, or pleas may be that I am mostly an 'outsider.' You know, how I live, what I believe. I'm always in some minority."
Zephyr ruminates: "Your generation is first called “Baby Boomers” because after World War II there is a “population explosion.” Then, “The ‘Me’ Generation” is applied to the youngest of you, so you and your friends, mostly. You tell me about the heightened interest in 'pop' psychology, Eastern religions/spirituality—'navel-gazing,' as some sneer it at you—plus, sexual liberation, pacifism and war-resisting, socialism and sharing economic wealth and other self-referential choices. Right?"
"Sure, sure. You have that all down." I appreciate his knowledge. "What about this, though? As Boomers' parents age and we have our own children, we become the largest 'Sandwich Generation,' so-called because we have simultaneous caregiving responsibilities for our parents and our children for more years than any previous generation. Women in my generation are able and often choose to delay having kids due to better birth control and career opportunities. People in my parents’ generation live longer due to better nutrition and medical care. We get crushed in the middle."
Zephyr replies, "That 'Sandwich' label transmogrifies into 'The Spanners' at the turn of the century. I think it's also due to the fact that you are the people who live almost equal numbers of your lives' decades in both centuries."
"Very insightful, Zef. I think it's also our new title because we are born and live most of our 'productive' lives in the latter half of the twentieth century, in the USA or other 'Western' countries. Adults’ work lives as originally conceived, for ages 18 – 65, are becoming extended due to the pushed-back age of 'retirement' to 72. Every decade I work, the USA government adds a year or two, until, for me, Social Security collection age moves from 65 to 72! Unparalleled! And, not quite fair, some think."
"I know," Zephyr commiserates. "You and others your age often have three or more professional careers or types of work during these fifty or more working years versus the usual single job, career or company affiliation maintained for 25 – 40 years for your grandparents and those older."
Zephyr pokes, "What do you mean, now, by 'Western,' though?"
"Good catch, Zef. Okay, I do need to specify." I agree. "In this era, 'Western' includes those countries in the self-named 'First World,' the countries with the most resources, highest levels of education and medical care, and easier access to clean water, electricity and transportation routes."
Zephyr queries: "So, the 'First World,' in development terms, includes: the United Kingdom and its territories, most of which become independent nations; some of the more 'advanced' nations in Western and Central Europe, most of which join the 'Economic Union of Europe' creating the 'Eurozone,' which also includes the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries?"
"Yes. Good. That's the list." I reply. "Spanners also come from the so-called 'Second World,' those mid-level developing countries—not the least levels, and not the highest, by the previously mentioned standards—in Mexico, Central and South American nations. That status depends upon individuals’ education and economic status."
"What about this?" Zephyr adds. "Spanners include people of the generation born in post-World War II Japan, too. As China's economy booms, the same age group joins Spanners."
"All right. I see your Japan and China and add India and some African nations!" I play. "After many colonies’ liberations or bloody revolutions and the end of Apartheid—which Spanners help bring about by pressuring First World colleges and businesses to stop investing in South Africa until it ends Apartheid, I might brag—Spanners include those who come from the older, independent nations in Africa and from industrialized, Silicon Valley's remote worker areas in India. Again, mostly those who are well-educated and not in poverty."
"Aren't Spanners the largest generation of people ever to be alive on planet Earth at one time?" Zephyr asks.
"Yes," I answer. "The human population of Earth more than triples between the 1954 and 2012, to over 7 billion people."
"That's a shitload of people!" Zephyr exclaims.
"I know. No wonder we can't all 'get along.' Spanners exist almost as one giant, dysfunctional family!"
Zef laughs. "You do not usually agree. You spend enormous amounts of time and resources arguing with, overpowering, terrorizing and even killing one another. Need massive therapy, BPC!"
"We feel cheated!" I proclaim. "Remember, the world economy is forced into collapse by the greed, malfeasance, and short-sightedness of about several thousand of us, 2008 - 2012. This forces millions of us out of work at our peak of productivity and postpones retirement for millions more. We can be thought of as 'Spanners' because we remember and believe we are owed 'better times' and are unhappy with these disasters, to say the least. In our view, economies are supposed to be booming; World War II is supposed to have been 'the war to end all wars.'”
"Lots of broken promises, huh? Should I call you a 'whaaambulance'?"
We both laugh.
I go on with my litany of complaints. "Diseases like cancer, muscular dystrophy, tuberculosis, malaria, polio, measles and many others are supposed to be eliminated or cured. Instead, we have pandemics like AIDS, SARS and 'flus, drug-resistant tuberculosis, hepatitis C and bacteria—due to overuse of antibiotics, I might add—resurgences of polio and other 'childhood' diseases and higher incidence rates of cancer."
"Well, as long as we're complaining about the failure of 'the dream,' let's count the thousands of armed conflicts all over the planet: almost continual violence, somewhere," Zef adds.
"I know. I hate seeing the global economy go from boom to bust to boom to bust and then stay on bust."
Zephyr offers: "I know you believe most political and religious leaders are eminently untrustworthy. I agree with you. Most are repeatedly embroiled in scandal."
"Exactly! Plus, most legal systems are racist and classist, with USA's prisons run by for-profit corporations who keep them filled to capacity by colluding with a corrupt system of 'justice' and horrible inequities in education, nutrition and opportunities, especially for new immigrants to and people of color."
"What about the pirates!" Zephyr reminds me.
I do not mean cute, Johnny Depp, Disney-types. "They are scary. They are kidnapping tourists, stealing boats, yachts, and cargo ships in several waterways because they can’t conceive of a better way to gain power and funds. They feel helpless. This is their perverted attempt to protest about personal and larger conditions, and they're paid for by large crime syndicates."
"What I hate are the people who are self-immolating, starving, cutting and otherwise killing themselves, supposedly to 'protest.'" Zephry sounds discouraged.
"I hate that, too, Honey," I empathize. "We are led to believe in the 'promises' given us in the late 1940s and 1950s and expanded on throughout the '70s - '90s. They are not fulfilled for most of us and we are pissed. But many individuals believe their lack of accomplishment is due to personal problems. They don't recognize that these systemic failures are what actually fuel their insecurities and low self-esteem."
"Spanners live in both the best and then what appears to be heading into the worst years of global conditions in the modern era. Straddling these two experiences makes you angry and restless?" Zephyr summarizes.
"Yes. Many of us are too idle, also. We either have too much money and leisure time or no work and nowhere to be. The rest are too busy, due to our workplaces’ having 'downsized' and 'outsourced' other jobs, with extreme pressures from working and our intergenerational home lives."
"I hear you feel horribly displaced. From what?" Zef asks.
"From what we believe ourselves to be entitled to: economic stability and peace on earth. We see what is happening to our parents’ dreams of better lives for us, their children, and our own dreams of better lives for our children are shaky. We are left with dashed hopes, struggles we did not expect, anxiety and resentment. Spanners take more psychotropic prescribed medications and use more illegal mood changing drugs than any previous generation."
"I see all that as good," Zephyr says, surprising me. "These conditions pave the way for recognizing the need for change. However, fear, stubbornness, denial and pride prevent some from recognizing that the Transition brings the 'right' kind of change."
"You're so smart! Fraggers and Trenchers are born from these hard times and are unable to trust any authorities. They believe in their views as strongly as the Transitioning Spanners who welcome, who crave the harmony and peace promised by the MWC membership," I consider.
Zef continues his analysis, which is getting even more interesting. "The global economic collapse and its aftermath—which in no way should ever be called a 'recovery'—generate the clear need for a massive, world-wide change in the ways humans do business and live our lives on this planet. It is met with rising anti-Semitism, stronger anti-immigration movements, ultra-misogyny, more child and spousal abuse, disastrous numbers of drug and alcohol addicts, excessive gambling and thievery by the richest."
"And," I add, "this mess inspires the delegation from the Many Worlds Collective to show themselves and become overt in their ever-more successful interventions for Earth’s and its inhabitants’ sake."
Zephyr concludes: "Scientists finally formally acknowledge the existence of many more galaxies and many stars in our own galaxy that have planets or planets’ moons in 'The Goldilocks Zone,' whose orbits allow for the existence of 'life' as we know it, based on their proximity to the sun (not too close; not too distant), only one year BPC."
"Takes us long enough, huh?" I remark. "So, my generation of humans, we Spanners, also 'span' the time of the pretense of 'no contact' to the irrevocable time of overt, ongoing contact with other worlds’ beings."
Zef ends with: "I gotta go. You want the credit? You got it!"
Because of me and this first book, "This Changes Everything” becomes the slogan of Spanners everywhere. T-shirts available soon. My Buddhist teacher is amused.
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