My generation feared zombies or a rogue vampire underground would take us down. A giant meteor could also fall from the sky and leave us buried in ash and dust for twenty years. The end could arrive as viral maybe…an influenza mutation pandemic on steroids to the likes of what we’ve never seen. A lethal attack on the power grid and water supply could add to the misery quite effectively, or a quick and dirty suitcase nuke, getting the end started even quicker…and bringing with it the loud bang and smoke plume we’ve all come to expect. The boom would come first, and then the mushroom cloud would rise as the heat and the pressure wave moved across the landscape. We’d all seen it in the movies; therefore, we thought we knew how it would all play out.
We’re all too lazy and watch way too much television, I sometimes reason. And we believe too quick and in too much muck. All those cheesy disaster movies that tried so hard to make it all seem real and so utterly possible couldn’t all be right. Could they? The theatrical crap coming out of Hollywood couldn’t all be right. Could it? I muse sometimes at all the certainty—regardless of the means—we somehow already knew the way it would end. The end would come from far away, from a place we didn’t understand. But the irony is: the so-called doomsday hit us out of nowhere, and that was because all the dots were already perfectly lined up by people we trusted.
I was only four when the Black Crash hit; I was too young to understand the concept of threat–whether from some exotic place far away or treason from within. And I was too young to know all the other buzzwords that are supposed to come with it…prevention, warning signs, red flags, and those dreadful triggers. I think people looked too hard for that rogue faraway nation to trigger our downfall. But even that was kept at a safe distance…out of sight, out of mind. By 2009, we’d already turned our attention away from the radical Islamic threats, and after admitting our guilt, we apologized for all our wrongdoings to the world. By 2011, we were handing over our sensitive technology and weaponry, pretending we were all friends in a new world order that no one truly believed in. All of these countries, of course, still hated us, even with all our careless moves. But all this didn’t matter; we never looked for the right warning signs, red flags, and triggers because we never suspected the real danger that lurked behind our stellar, ivory tower institutions. Our minds, our protective sides, wouldn’t allow us to see the truth. So it happened, quite easily I might add: the Black Crash was planned and carried out by people we trusted to watch our backs. They undermined us…right under our noses. At least that’s what my daddy always said.
I was midway through my freshman year of high school when the State Freedoms Act was passed. Many parts were written specifically to rein in government intervention in our private lives. Public reeducation was a major part of this roping in the schools, and again, my daddy said, it had to be that way or we’d simply implode. So with that doom in mind, reeducation statutes made teaching conservative views mandatory, and this, of course, placed lessons learned from the Black Crash at the top of the curriculum list. By the time I was a senior, a mandatory, nationwide test was given to ensure that everyone who graduated from high school understood basic conservative and constitutional beliefs. When I passed with flying colors, I wasn’t surprised. I would accept nothing less than a perfect score on such trivial, obvious matters.
My daddy taught me well, and simply told me from time to time, “Things have changed, Mary Catherine. Your life will be very different from ours.” I figured he just felt the need to father me. But the coddling generation had passed. My generation was never allowed to focus on silly things that didn’t matter…socialist, progressive ideals that placed us all in a pot of mediocre nothingness. We were told that a lot of hate and revenge was needed to dig us out, and my generation would one day be forced to dig too. All of this recovery was forced down our throats, and after a while, it started to make sense.
Every day in school, we were taught real-life lessons of the Black Crash…dangers of blindly espousing communal thought, loss of individual freedoms, embracing partisan politics, inept journalism, and a corrupt and oversized government. I left high school with my mind made up for me. The choice to not embrace the values of personal empowerment, competition, taking care of your own, ethics, fairness didn’t exist. We were all treated like we came from the old school…taught and led one way: to espouse what my daddy called an “old time saying” that seemed to resonate with everyone old and young, regardless of race or ethnicity: you snooze, you lose; you lose, too bad. No one will be there to catch you up; that’s what I was taught, and that’s what I believed.
After the Black Crash, my parents must have thought their small and safe world had been turned upside down. The shock and dismay was sure forced down my throat as often as possible, one warning at a time. But I could never understand why their “we’re-in-recovery-now” life was focused on teaching the youth their life lessons. When our teachers failed to get their points across, parents were there to push more on us and, of course, vice versa. And mine never let me down, one minute reminding me how they lost the American way and, in an instant 180-degree shift, stressing how future generations must never let it happen again.
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