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Are we living in a golden age?

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Each morning, I rise to feed my squawking dog and make my way to my office. Closed off by a set of bay doors, I shut the doors and open my laptop to the news.

There is always a dread which falls over me before I read a line of it all. As I look at every news outlet, one is always tempted to sway me to one side or the other. Either way, I wonder what the world has done since I was last awake.

Has it descended further into chaos? Did one nation or another put aside their differences? Or does it even matter if anyone’s done anything?

I cannot tell if this anxiety is the product of aging or the times we live in. This is the problem.

The other day, I found myself in a coffee shop called Second Wind Coffee on Campus Corner in Norman. The creamer was clouding my coffee by the time these loud students burst through the door. It was obvious to everyone they were in the middle of a debate.

“I’m tellin’ you, there is no place I wouldn’t go right now if there was a time machine,” the man with the frizzed brown hair said. He took his hat off and slapped it to the wooden table. “Boy, it could be two years ago or two hundred; it doesn’t matter anymore. I just want the hell out of this time.”

The man sunk into the chair while the other man went to the counter. They ordered two drip coffees with creamer and sat together. This other man had a more subtle approach to him.

He sipped his coffee with his fingerless gloves still on. Eventually, the man took his puffed blue coat and placed it behind him.

The man with the wild hair sat up with his elbows propped on the table. It was as though he was a dog waiting on the words of a master.

“Well,” the man said. “Where would you go? Given the choice of now or any other time, I’d say take your chances somewhere else.”

The other man set his coffee down. Without so much as a smirk, the other man said, “I think the perfect time to be alive is right now.” This sentence must have shaken the man’s world.

“Are you kiddin’ me right now, Blake?” the man said. “You have a man in the White House who is hell-bent on his own stupidity to kill us all, you have countries who were once allies turning their backs on us, and everything is so damn polarizing, it’s hard to say anything without offending anyone.”

Blake shook his head.

“How can you sit there thinking this is where you want to be?” The other man said. “The world is going to hell and you’re just gonna sit back and watch.”

“No, I’m not,” Blake said. “I do my part and I do what I can. Look, I voted in the last election, I support any advocates working towards equal rights, I’m a backer of the Me Too movement. This is the time to be alive; not some time you’ve only read about.”

This struck me. Here I was in a coffee shop waiting for the time to die off until I went home. One is never prepared for a philosophy lesson, even in the classroom. I was supposed to be heading to the library but I found myself a spot next to the window facing the street.

I had to hear the rest.

Blake went on.

“I hear this crap from my girlfriend all the time about how great some other time was. See, her time that she wants to go back to was the 60’s with all the hippies and free love. Where she gets mad at me is when I tell her about all the bad things that happened at that time too. Jim Crow laws, white people beating and killing black people, assassinations, political corruption.”

“What does she say to you when you tell her that,” the other man said.

“She usually calls me a cynical son of a bitch,” the two laugh.

The other man’s smile faded and he went back into his rhetoric. “But seriously, how can you stand not to think to go back to a simpler time? When people knew what was going on and it was just better?”

“Oh, so it was better to be simpler?” Blake said. He had a smug grin about him which resembled a trap.

“No,” the other man said in a burst. “What I mean is that people knew what was going on and the changes in society made everything better for where we are now.”

I was finishing my coffee as the man made this claim. There wasn’t anything to argue about the point. It was fair, it was just. It was inarguable until Blake made a final reply which made me wonder about everything.

“All of these changes,” Blake said, “are because others fought, died and persevered on even when the times went to hell. Everyone talks about how this world is going to hell and I’m freakin’ sick of it. People have been saying that the world is going to hell now until 20 years pass and then it’s remembered as, “them good ole days.” So no, I wouldn’t want to go back to a different time. Each generation and time has its own problems to solve and we all get there in some way or another. The only thing we can do is keep going. This is the time to be alive. If you pay attention, people are rising up and doing what is right. But the only way to see it is by looking ahead instead of over your shoulder.”

The argument died on the table just like that.

Their argument came in as a storm and settled like dew in the morning. Even the patrons who had been there the whole time had forgotten about the conversation and went back to their normal lives. As for me, I bought Blake another cup of coffee.

Blake smiled and asked why I did what I did.

I told him that people like him earned it.

I left for the library in the bitter winter air; however, I never felt a single nip. The idea that the world is what we make it settled in me even as I write these words.

Today, people might want to travel to a simpler time and wonder what life was like.

Tomorrow, people will want to travel to today for a simpler time.

Nine years down the road, they’ll want to travel 10 years in the past to see how life was easier.

To ask to live in a golden age is absurd. Every year you’re alive is a mixture of gold and gunk. The mission of mankind is simple: live life to make yours and others easier.

Work, create and invent as though time was irrelevant and that is how ages become golden.  

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About the Author

Brandon King

Brandon King is a journalism student at OCCC, working towards becoming a professional writer....

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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