July 30, 2009

The best of times, the worst of times...

Many times in recent years I have heard friends or acquaintances opine about this being the worst times for our civilization. Many reasons are given from violence and sex on TV, movies and video games to socialization of our government. More often it is just an overall diminishing of the human spirit in the form of lack of respect for each other and the slow demise of general good manners. While I may agree that there are many things going on today that are not the best reflection of the human soul, we must keep things in historical perspective.

I remember a few years back, one of my favorite commercials was by the Church of Latter Day Saints. It had the narrator lamenting the state of our youth today. "Kids today are tyrants! They have no respect..." etc. It all fit the generation up and coming to many degrees. Turns out that the quote was from...Socrates, over 2,000 years ago!

It is a common part of the human psyche to relate our experiences to our immediate surroundings. This most assuredly reflects our rise from a much less sophisticated hunter/gatherer existence. When one is engaged in survival among the wild animals that inevitably pose a danger to humans living in the exposed environment, a historical sensitivity to the situation is probably neither warranted nor expedient. Certainly, short term reference is vital. Last month when Grog stabbed the mammoth in the posterior, it turned and skewered him on it's tusk. Hmmmmm. Don't stab mammoths in the arse, okay! Point made. This tendency to individualize our experiences goes a long way to explain why every generation tends to think things are much worse than they used to be in the 'good ole days'.

It is true that we can all look back at 'simpler' times and cherry pick romantic observations of a time gone by; When a handshake sealed a deal, When men were men, When kids rode their bikes without helmets, etc. etc. etc. However, we seldom also reflect on the bad parts; When air conditioning didn't exist, When three networks controlled almost all information, When wars killed millions instead of thousands, etc. etc. etc.
Take a moment and think: Would you rather have lived through the black plague, where upwards of a third of the entire population of the world was exterminated?
Would you rather have been a Christian, when you proved your faith not by prayer and helping the needy, but by allowing yourself to be eaten by a lion? Go ahead, take a second or two to answer.
Many of my friends pine for days of cowboys and indians, living off the land, just you and your horse. Think about that the next time you get a cold beer out of the fridge. Weeks if not months without anything cold to drink? Hardtack and jerky? Not to mention the 'cure' for that little problem you have since the visit to Ms. Mabels House of Joy. Can you say hot poker? I'll give the male readers a moment to recover...

Clearly, these are not the worst times. Certainly, we must be strident and persistent in the protection of our liberties, the preservation of our Constitution and we must lead by example so our children and grandchildren understand how a civilized person should conduct themselves in daily life. Just as clearly we should give thanks every day to live in these times, with these conveniences, with this prosperity and with all of the blessings bestowed upon the greatest nation to have ever been dreamed up in the taverns of the colonies. God Bless America, now and forever!

by: Keith D. Rodebush

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