What should we change first?
rustle of green leaves,
tweets and trills of hidden birds
hum of passing car
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Punk Rock Earnestness
I belong to Gen X. I grew up on a steady media diet of sarcasm and snark.
We were the punk rock generation—anti-establishment, non-conformist, and indifferent. Of course, generational labels are ridiculous. While my age cohort has a lot of cultural things in common, each of us is shaped by our own experiences. We, like every other generation, are not monolithic.
In many ways, I fit the stereotype. Snark and sarcasm are my first language. I always have to do things my own way, and I have an initial, visceral, distrust of authority figures. I loved punk music in my teens, and I still love the DIY, fuck-the-gatekeepers punk ethos. But, I am not indifferent.
We live in a messy world that often feels like it’s teetering on the knife’s edge. We have a lot of problems to solve, and often, our leaders are the ones standing in the way, preventing the real change that needs to happen. Our systems are cruel, capricious, and unjust.
I’m not blind or indifferent to that.
But I’m choosing to fight a different way.
I’ve never been interested in being cool, which is good because I’ve never been cool.
I’m a nerd.
I’m a middle-aged man passionate about poetry and comics. I spend hours every day obsessed with haiku and drawing pictures. I love everything about these art forms. I often get distracted in conversations because someone will say something that sparks an idea for a poem or comic. I’m constantly counting syllables and staring and objects, trying to break them down into basic shapes so I put them in a comic later.
I know that poetry is a force that can change people. And if it can change people, it can change the world.
I’m hopeful that if we stop and notice not just the carnage of our world, but the joy and wonder too, we will have the strength to save it.
Instead of writing rants and yelling at the world about all the things that suck, I’m quietly showing anyone who will pause for a moment the birds hiding in the tree that start singing once the car leaves the area.
The true core of punk, and of Gen X, isn’t the sarcasm or the indifference. It’s the courage to care about something deeply and passionately even when nobody else gets it.
In our world today, there is nothing more punk rock, nothing more non-conformist, than kindness and earnestness.
Be the weird you want to see in the world!
It seems we are nerds of a feather - though a large gap in age - I like the clarity I read here, your sense of purpose is something I wish I'd had at you age ...
Keep up the good work.
"In our world today, there is nothing more punk rock, nothing more non-conformist, than kindness and earnestness."