I graduated from building blocks to tic tac toe.
I graduated from Tonka Trucks to Lego.
I graduated from Ewoks to G.I. Joe.
We pass the baton from one generation to another.
Degrees earned and Resumes written.
Skills acquired and careers gotten.
I remember sitting in school thinking about all the nonsense I was learning and if it could be used. I conjugated verbs and learned of present tense in my past tense. I solved word problems with abstract equations. Not knowing the future of my people or my nation. Not knowing I had a choice as a child that was never given.
I demanded chicken nuggets and Sloppy Joes. I didn’t know of preservatives or growth hormones. I didn’t know of monoculture farming as the storm was brewing. I didn’t think of my carbon footprint wherever I went. Because I lived in the land of rock and roll. Heavy metal, birth control. Mullets long and hair fluffed tall. Jeans were tucked, reds were smoked and Zimas drunk. Menthol’s green, Nintendo magic mystery machine.
College came and things changed. The angst of youth turned into the apathy of the group, pregnant with choice. One long buffet of food imported, boxed and delivered to every freshman feeding at the trough of life. The freshmen fifteen turned into the freshman thirty because no one ever got dirty. Sweat was something experienced between air conditioned containers.
The music changed. Heavy metal lipstick on a pig. Stolen guitar riffs from the sixties mixed with rap hard and dirty. Lyrics were lingering and searching for meaning. Trying to find the voice of a generation devoured by choice. Years were lost finding tokens and building avatars. Playing video games while playing drinking games. Never knowing hunger or thirst. A generation depressed for having so much.
I graduated from beer bongs to whiskey.
I graduated from Tupac to 50.
I graduated from a small town to New York city.
Brooklyn fever, dot com boom and bust. Then the airplanes hit. The twin tower’s dust covered the world. Finally my generation was ready to die. No more lusting for my father’s war. No more Korea or Vietnam, for this is a young man’s land. Hands were raised, promises were made and broken. The truth not found, the lies abound. Sworn in to fight for peace in distant lands. So many deaths, soon to be forgotten.
As we limp from one war to the next, trading one sandbox for another, our toys are the hottest. The best money can borrow. Remote control flyovers with Hellfire missiles. Our drones are passing overhead as families and children are blown to shreds. We have trained for this playing Zelda, playing Halo, playing Call of Duty. I understand war. I now know why my father was silent. There is no honor in this. There is no honor in this.
Each night at the dinner table I make choices. Each mouth full a conscious decision to correct the past. To allow myself to understand that I have allowed this to happen. That I am to blame. To educate my children that they can refrain. Not forcing, not pushing, but nurturing empathy. And just like that, tonight it happened. My little girl said she doesn’t eat chicken anymore. Says she doesn’t want them to suffer. A new generation is at bat. Soon to be aware of the many mistakes we did exact.
I graduated from a child to a man
I graduated from being a meat eater to vegan.
I graduated from apathy to taking a stand.