The worst feeling in the world, I think, is helplessness. I suppose it comes from being so helpless when we’re born. For many years of our lives we are completely at the mercy of other human beings. It is, however, hardwired into us to be independent, to put aside the helping hand and shoulder our burdens on our own. It’s pride, perhaps, or shame and guilt. In any case, we all hate to be a drain upon those around us.
Sometimes, we have no choice. Sometimes we just need a shoulder to cry on or a hand to help us up. These days, those qualities are very difficult to find. Help is not trusted, a by-product of our advertising driven age. Everyone is out for a buck, after all, and no one offers to help unless there is something in it for them. What a planet full of neurotics we’ve become.
When it’s yourself who is helpless, you feel alone, but I think it’s worse when it’s a friend or loved one who needs help and you cannot do anything for them. That’s true helplessness. That’s when you know how awful you can feel, because you have to look out for yourself when you desperately want to be the knight in shining armor for someone else. It pinches the soul.
I suppose this is what the Depression era folks had to live through. It’s not about the economy, really. Oh sure, the money situation for everyone is tough, but it’s the idiocy, the utter cognitive dissonance that has gripped this great nation that leads to the helplessness. All those false promises, all those smiling politicians who tell you it’s going to be okay when it’s not even close. You see someone you love hurting and you can’t help them because you’re too screwed up yourself, and even if you weren’t, they won’t trust you to really help. That’s the world we live in now.
Generation X, that’s the title the people I grew up with were saddled with. The children of the Baby Boomers, the ultimate selfish generation, we were always told there would be nothing for us. How could there be, when our predecessors were consuming everything in sight. Now here we are, left holding the bag, and our friends are crying out in pain all around us. How do we respond? Many of us curl into balls, depression spiraling down. But I think so many forget that we are stronger than that, and eventually we will strike back at those who have kept us down. We did it before, we pushed back, not just against our parents, but against the next generation who wants to take our place before we can even claim it. Someday, I hope, I pray, we’ll stand up and with a solid, angry voice tell the assholes that surround us to back off.
And yet…I feel helpless to make that happen.