Nor was my father an exception. All the men who peopled my childhood, from my grandfather and my uncles to my father's friends and business acquaintances, were men who knew who they were. They didn't have time to question that knowledge. They were too busy living life.
And the women who spangled my formative years – my grandmother, my aunts, my mother and her friends – were no less pragmatic. They worked hard to achieve what they wanted for themselves and for their children, but their fantasies were confined to the pages of True Romance or Woman's Day magazines.
The adults of my childhood knew they would never be more –nor less – than they were. They could improve their lot in life, but they couldn't change their lot in life. It wasn't a fatalism that restrained them. It was rather a recognition of reality that nourished them.
When I got to high school, I discovered that there are some people who are a bit gender confused, but they were a tiny minority, useful for joke fodder but hardly a concern. On the whole, however, everyone in my youth was secure and comfortable with who they were.
In today's America, however, we seem to be beset by an epidemic of people who don't know – or are too cowardly to admit – who they are. We have boys who would rather be girls, girls who would rather be boys, Christians who would rather be Muslims, adults who would rather be children, men who want to be women, a President who would rather be a golf pro, a thief who wants to be President, and even a White woman who wants to be Black.
With the possible exception of Rachel Dolezal (who might be just taking advantage of the fact that if you're Black, White people will pay for your food, housing, and medical care courtesy of Uncle Sugar), these people are all living in an alternate universe. They exist in a never-never land with Peter Pan and Tinkerbelle where you can be whatever you want to be.
How did they get that way? Where did they get the idea that reality doesn't matter? Who taught them that life is a play in which the actors are free to adlib their lines?
We have a generation of adults who were raised on video games, where you can morph into a robot and getting killed is not permanent. We have a nation of texters, who are so divorced from what's going on in the real world that they walk off subway platforms and drive their cars into the backs of stalled semis.
We have a population that is hooked on social media, where emotions are unbridled and misinformed opinions dominate over pesky facts. We are a nation addicted to the internet, where you are free to act out your fantasies with anonymity and impunity.
And we have a generation who thinks it's cool to get high on marijuana – the ultimate escape from reality. We have become a nation of cowards, hiding from reality in a world of illusions and delusions.
So what do we do about it? Read tomorrow's blog for my solution.