Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Good Old

Not too long ago I had the pleasure of reading Tom Brokaw's book, "The Greatest Generation". It was so refreshing to see in print stories of people whose ideals, were those which my generation grew up with. To hark back to a day and age when a man's word was his bond, a guaranteed passport to a life led honorably. To a day when people took responsibility for their actions and respect was a given. A day and age when three things were never, ever discussed; how much money one made, for whom they voted, or how they chose to worship. Patriotism was taken for granted and not something one had to proclaim from the rooftops.

What has happened in the last 60 years? What values that our parents passed along to us did we fail to pass along to our children? I think it was because we suddenly were flush. Flush with victory. Flush with alternatives to inner city living. Flush with a new mobility when wartime factories transferred to the business of peacetime rather than the business of war. We were a country busy re-inventing itself. We picked up speed. At no time in history were so many strides being made in the development of new goods.

The invention of the automobile, telephone, radio and the electric light were the marvels of the 19th and early parts of the 20th centuries, we have had not only improvements on those 3 things but a host of new technical marvels which have swept us up into a tsunami of consumerism, of "have to haves," as well as a "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality.

Just as the young men and women, of centuries past, had forsaken life on the farm and flocked to cities to seek their fortunes, we started moving farther afield to opportunities springing up in tune with new technology centers. Keeping pace with our migrations were all those things which made it easier for us to pursue our quest for the American Dream. The bigger car, the bigger house, the two televisions rather than one, a home computer and then a laptop, video games, all the latest in kitchen appliances and gadgets, gadgets, gadgets!

And as we raced headlong into this new Utopia, we started to loose those things which had always been the greater part of our national fabric. For all that we have achieved as a country I mourn those things which we seem to have lost. And has this mad dash, this desire to have the biggest and best of all things, made us better as a society?

  • We no longer have a sense of community amongst each other.
  • We are no longer courteous to one another.
  • We are filled with road rage.
  • We are vitriolic against all those things which we feel we have no control over.
  • We do not control ourselves.
  • We have National slug fests and call them political campaigns.
  • We have elevated dying to a national pastime.
  • We have become voyeurs in political bedrooms.
  • We invade other countries because of a need for their natural resources.
  • We are inconsiderate, uncomprehending and downright nasty to anyone who does not agree with our own personal world view, whether in politics, religion or patriotism.
  • We feel the need to declare ourselves Christians, and yet, seemingly, embrace no Christian values.
  • We have disdain for those less fortunate and do not care what their circumstances are.
  • We neglect our children.
  • We neglect our elderly.
  • We neglect our poor.
  • We neglect ourselves and our souls.
  • We are not charitable.
  • We are arrogant.
  • We are not good husbandmen.

We have twice now, elected a man who is the poster boy for all those things listed above. He is our representative to the rest of the world. On that note I will leave you with something my mother always used to say to me, back in the good old days. Back when manners were important, character counted, and the most important thing one had to possess was his good name...

You are known by the company you keep.