Declaim

May I approach you with a thought today? Could you spare a moment? I know you’re busy but this is one of those times when maybe you can sit back and read from someone who has lived to see things greatly improve over the last 50 years.

There’s a lot of information coming at us from many sources. Sometimes it stirs us up emotionally and other times it might get us to think, we’re doomed!

It would be naive of me to propose we don’t have problems to sort out,¬†individually and collectively as a nation. I do think we can look at this from a glass not even close to half empty. I believe the glass is well above half full.

I grew up around adults who fought in a World War. Earth’s population was smaller 70 years ago. Estimates of total dead range from 50 million to over 70 million. Of the total deaths in World War II approximately 85 percent, mostly Soviet and Chinese, were on the Allied side and 15 percent on the Axis side.

Before World War 2, there was a global economic crisis. In the U.S. this was called the Great Depression. At no other time in our history was there a more severe financial crisis than the period starting in 1929 and lasting for a decade. Polio and Tuberculosis were common diseases, which certainly had impact on my family.

When I was a child, we routinely went through drills on duck and cover under our desks should an atomic bomb go off anywhere in our area. Of course now, we would view that tactic as duck and kiss your backside goodbye.

Each of us walked to school, in some cases this was more than a mile, no matter the weather conditions. Since many of our parents and grand parents lived through these previously troubled times, they were quite resourceful in doing things for themselves. This often included having a family garden and canning food in the fall. They also mended socks, knees in pants and elbow areas on shirts. Some of us were able to own more than one pair of shoes. Typically, I had gym shoes and school shoes. Later I even had a pair of Sunday dress shoes.

We had several key people assassinated before our eyes, including a President and a man who lived his life for peace and civil rights. We could turn on the news and hear about riots in the streets in major cities, Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago, Detroit, Newark and probably a whole lot of other places we knew little about.

Black & white TV was losing popularity to the wonder of color TV and if we lived in a city, we could watch up to 4 stations. The transistor was invented and we began to see these tiny ‘6 transistor’ pocket radios which could be carried around instead of taking up floor space. We got to carry around portable record players, where we might even take them with a handful of records, over to a friends house.

Many of my peers went off to a war where few of us knew why we were there, but over 58,000 never came back. Of those that came back, some of them didn’t get jobs or at least good ones because they served in the military. Others prior to and just after the war were turned away from some businesses and rejected for law enforcement because they had the ‘wrong skin color’.

computer equipment in the 1960's

Typical computer equipment from the 60’s and 70’s – weburbanist.com

I started to become exposed to computers by sitting at a clunk and whir terminal. It was similar to a typewriter and each letter it printed on was on a continuous feed perforated edged paper. The letter was formed by a small hammer-like lever or ball on to an ink ribbon leaving an impression on the paper. This was noisy and the computer itself was miles away communicating by a slow telephone connection.

So what’s different now?

Most of us have enough to eat (I was 6′ 2″ and 137 lbs when I entered the service).

Children are not concerned about an imminent nuclear attack or making sure the food is adequately stocked in the pantry for winter.

Vaccines were invented which save untold thousands from contracting polio, small pox, and tuberculosis.

We don’t see most kids concerned about being embarrassed to wear corduroy jeans to school because regular pants weren’t going to last. There are not many kids wearing patches on their knees or elbows unless it was purchased to look that way. (My mom was clever, she put the knee patches on the inside of the pants so people didn’t see the trousers were mended. I even learned how to mend a sock by inserting a small light bulb into the sock, thereby avoiding sticking my fingers with the needle.

Almost everyone comes in contact with miniature computers, telephones, (we didn’t have a phone until I was about 10), and probably sits in front of a wide-screen, high-definition computer screen and or TV.

Not only do children have good shoes, they often have expensive, ‘designer brand’ shoes with big sports star names on the label. Essentially, the entire country has seen an overall increase in wealth and well-being despite the media trying to portray us as all a bunch of fat, lazy out of shape unhealthy couch potatoes. We live longer too.

Air quality in most major urban areas has greatly improved since 50 years ago, even though most children ride the bus to school.

Rivers and streams as well as some major lakes are clean to the point where you can step in them and not get a rare disease or catch fire. Some of those same bodies of water were actually fire hazards when I was young.

You can walk in most rural and urban areas and not be attacked because you don’t look like someone who is from the community. Violent crime over the past 20 years, has gone down significantly in spite of the sensational news reports.

People are able to have interracial marriages and are free to associate with whomever they want regardless of ethnicity.

Does this mean everyone is living above poverty and without discrimination? Are we at risk for another world war? Not likely, but no one ever knows. Flying commercial airplanes into buildings are a new wrinkle on urban warfare. At least we don’t have our children go through bombing drills.

At any moment we might witness another amazing invention or labor-saving device launching a new business opportunity and increasing employment. They’ve happened so frequently since the 1960’s we have become used to expecting the next paradigm shift.

So let’s not get too caught up in the world has gone down the spout and make preparations for the end of the world as we know it.

Let’s combine believable optimism with rational thought and recognize many things are getting better even though we may still have a lot further to go.

________________________________

In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.
Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.
– Elwood P. Dowd (Jimmy Stewart) from Harvey.


1Always seek to discover but temper discovery with knowledge from those with a positive outcome in their experience.

2Stay excited about what you are doing. If your pursuit teaches you something along the way, you have traded your time wisely.

3Continue to improve and refine. A routine is good unless that routine has flaws. Work on the flaws and know long term success is achieved by routine.

If you are active and involved with others understand there will be failures. Don’t let that stop you in your pursuit. Failure should and often does teach us something, go with that and accept things as they are. In other words, don’t accept failure as a permanent condition but know this happens to achievers as well as those that try to avoid it. Don’t be bitter. This is one thing many people walk away with from business failure or divorce. I can tell you from personal experience this isn’t a place to live with in your mind. Let go of the past, accept your new found situation and move forward with what you have learned and set new goals.

“That which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it.”

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”
– John Quincy Adams

“Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.”
– Samuel Johnson

“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.”
– Henry Ward Beecher

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.”
– Walter Elliott

“If you want to get somewhere you have to know where you want to go and how to get there. Then never, never, never give up.”
– Norman Vincent Peale

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