2011-05-26 / Sam Bari

Imprisoned by the technocrats

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand
By Sam Bari

Back in prehistoric times, as my son so delicately puts it, when I was a boy, the USA was a free country. The baby boomers, and anyone born before the post WWII era, understood the true meaning of freedom.

In the 1960s, the country began to subtly change. By the late 1970s the changes were dramatic, and freedom as I knew it no longer existed.

Everything George Orwell predicted in his book, “1984,” came true. That’s when the technocrats took over and imprisoned all the children of future generations. Consequently, I feel bad for the kids born after 1975. They didn’t have a chance to experience so much as a taste of real freedom. They could only read about it.

When I was growing up, freedom came in stages. It started with being big enough to climb stairs and grab a doorknob. Only then were we free to go anywhere in the house without help. The feeling was exhilarating.

The next stage was learning how to run, and going outside to play with other kids on the block. We couldn’t cross the street, but we were released from the confi nes of our house and yard. Exploring the entire block was awesome.

After we started school, we could cross the street and go anywhere our legs could take us, and they could take us a long way. The ultimate freedom came with our first bicycle. When we got bikes, the world was our proverbial oyster. We would be gone for days, sometimes weeks. That kind of freedom was close to intoxicating.

During the formative years, before bicycling age, we raced down sliding boards made of steel so they were extra fast. We had sword fights with sticks, but I don’t remember anyone losing an eye. We roller skated on sidewalks and didn’t wear helmets. We played dodge ball, stickball, and pickup basketball, baseball and football with no pads or safety equipment. We did those things every day.

We quenched our thirst with Kool-Aid made with bleached white sugar. Four guys would share a bottle of soda by passing it around so everybody could take a swig. Nobody died from the germs. If there wasn’t any soda or Kool-Aid available, we drank water straight from a garden hose. Water in plastic bottles had yet to be invented.

Although we existed on diets loaded with Twinkies, cupcakes, hot dogs containing unspeakable meat by-products, and sandwiches made of peanut butter and jelly on white Wonder bread, none of us was obese. We maintained a good healthy weight because we went outside and played, and we played hard.

I also remember standing in the backseat of my father’s old Ford and waving at kids in the car behind us through the rear window. Motor vehicles did not have car seats, seatbelts, or any other restraining device. Riding in the bed of my uncle’s pickup truck with the dog was more fun than kids today can imagine.

Back then, television was only broadcast a few hours each day, but we weren’t interested in watching it. The only time we watched TV for any length of time was on Saturday mornings when the networks filled the schedules with cartoons and cowboy shows.

From the time we left our houses in the morning until we came home when the sun went down, our parents not only didn’t hear from us, they didn’t know where we were. Somehow, we miraculously survived. If there was bad news, we heard about it when we came home.

We didn’t have PlayStations, Wiis and X-Boxes, or video games of any kind. They didn’t exist. We also didn’t have personal computers, let alone laptops. We didn’t make friends on the Internet. We developed relationships by going out and meeting people – face to face.

We didn’t have cell phones, so we couldn’t text or communicate electronically unless we went to a pay phone. Our parents couldn’t always get in touch with us, but they didn’t panic. Unless the police showed up at their door, they assumed everything was all right – and it was.

They taught us how to conduct ourselves without supervision. In today’s world, that is an unheard-of concept. It’s too bad, because kids today live as if they were prisoners under house arrest. They are monitored 24/7. I don’t know how they stand it.

Freedom used to have a different meaning. However, that was long before we lived in a system we can’t understand.

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