The Last Smart Generation
The old man was dying. His academic work was prestigious. He had even written some popular “shock” titles that were a commercial success. His wife had preceded him last year; his boy and girl were with him.
He mused over things. Most notably their future. He would leave them a substantive estate. Some to be taxed; some to be evaded. He could do nothing to assure their survival. He had warned about the fate of humanity. He chuckled at all the tin foil hats who feared asteroids, flu, Nazis, global warming, global cooling, and all manner of “disasters”. They were right to be afraid; they didn’t realize that the disaster was “hidden” in our genes and memes. He’d warned, but no one listened.
He’d try once more to give his children his message. But sadly, they weren’t “smart”. Not smart enough to understand the light at the end of the tunnel was a locomotive. Not smart enough to make their contemporaries understand. Not smart enought to avoid the onrushing disaster.
“Children, I’ve tried to warn society that we have turned on to a road that leads to destruction. The Greatest Generation was followed by the Me Generation. The Greatest Generation made a terrible mistake. They allowed themselves to pave the road for their children. They made it too easy, too ‘democratic’, too … too … too ‘universal’. The Nazi’s gave eugenics a bad name. They turned society off to the idea that our genes were worth studying. It wasn’t race that was to be focused on, but human achievement. The Athenians and the Spartans made the same mistake — brains and brawn must BOTH be valued. The Romans made the same mistake; the citizen soldier was replaced by mercenaries serving debauchery. Today, the global society means there is no reserve of ‘virtue’ to come forward and save humanity. ‘Coach potatoes’ develop the diseases of old age and quadriplegics as they watch mind numbing amounts of TV. The Greatest Generation made the mistake after WW2 to expand ‘education’ to everyone. The ‘education industry’ became a government job. No competition to get in; no competition with in it. High schools and colleges ‘graduated’ functional illiterates; grade inflation hid the truth. Your generation is ‘dumber’ than mine. For eons, the human race has struggled and evolved to solve new and harder problems. This is the last generation that innovates. I’ve tried to turn the Titanic away from the iceberg of stagnation. I tried to make people listen. Our genes need challenges and hardships. Our memes have made easy living that which is valued. Be afraid; be very afraid.”
The children ascribed it to the lunacy of old age. He was dying. The daughter was a plumber with a PhD in Theater. The son was an electrician with a double Masters in Fine Art and Creative Writing Criticism. They were comfortable.
It wasn’t long. In three generations, humanity died out. The Earth said good bye to another species that had failed to adapt to a new hardship. The hardship was unrecognized by any until they had slipped below critical mass. The descent was meteoric.
That old man had identified it. The hardship was “abundance”. Humanity was not smart enough to recognize the challenge and succumbed to it. All that was left was emptiness. There was no species to evolve up. The petrochemicals had all been used. Creation ended in loneliness. Earth was stuck in a dead end with no way out.
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