Remembering when all things were possible
Growing up in the Midwest after WWII was special. It was a magical time, when Big Brother was in development as a concept of fiction. We were the last generation of kids who could think like Robin Hood and Huckleberry Finn, and experience our dreams and fantasies.
The world was ours to deal with as we saw fit. We could still live as we liked, beholden to no master. If we were clever, anything was possible. And that’s what made my generation so great. We believed that we controlled our destiny.
When I was a kid, people worked at the same company all their lives. They didn’t change jobs every three years in hopes of racing up a proverbial industry ladder. They were rewarded for their loyalty.
Lamentably, the world has changed. Technology has advanced to measures never before considered possible. Unfortunately, that technology has homogenized our thinking and stifled our imaginations – whether “intentionally” is yet to be decided. However, scientific explanation is readily available for anyone seeking to know if theoretical concepts are folly or within the range of possibility, and that alone discourages the timid from exceeding the boundaries of reasonableness.
If mankind had always discarded that which was illogical based on current scientific knowledge, we would never have had electricity or internal combustion engines. For sure, we would have stopped attempting to fly, and the idea of interstellar travel would have remained a myth.
I like to think that the instinctive way of thinking from my youth had a sensibility that gave us hope. It seemed natural to believe that love and marriage were meant to last forever, or at least until “death do us part.” That was the ideal young lovers supported when they entered their union.
Divorce in those days was scandalous. People worked at making their marriages last. Today, drafting a pre-nuptial agreement to handle financial considerations in case a marriage fails is common practice. That practice makes me think that those involved expected their marriage to fail and felt that a “pre-nup” minimized the paperwork.
Even the idea of love having special meaning and magic has evaporated into the ether. People don’t form relationships because of time demands and other pressures. They “hook up” to satisfy physical or societal needs with no sense of loss or obligation. The lyrics to the love songs and ballads of the 1940s and ‘50s refl ect the sentiment of the day. The lyrics in today’s songs likewise reflect the mindset of the times and make the songs of yesterday appear sappy and corny.
Not only has our mindset changed, our values appear to be calculated using information gleaned from a computer database. We talk about teaching our children with accelerated methods of learning and uniform ways of thinking, as if we were programming them instead of teaching them. They don’t go out to explore the world and discover life. They learn everything through second-hand information, including their values and political position. That is frightening.
Programming a generation to think, believe and digest information that they are going to live by for the rest of their lives would have been the stuff of dark science fiction when I was a boy. When we look at the big picture, and the contrasting ideologies that people are dying to defend in today’s world, it is difficult to deny that we are turning into human versions of modern robots.
Political correctness is causing societal divisions to become more pronounced by forcing acceptance of diversity. We are encouraging hostilities, not stopping them. What was wrong with our country being founded on a Judeo-Christian religious platform? We were once proud to allow people with different beliefs to practice their religion without persecution. It was an example for the world to follow.
Now, we are taking strides to deny our beliefs as a culture, to assure that those who do not share our ideology are not offended. That is not what America’s founders intended. If we keep thinking this way, “God Bless America” will be deleted from our repertoire of patriotic songs.
I want to believe in the magic of love, enduring marriage and the right to practice my religion with impunity and without embarrassment. I want my Christmas cards to say “Merry Christmas,” my kids to believe in Santa Claus and I want to believe that one day, I will be able to personally fly. I like life in the American system that I can’t understand.