As I half-heartedly watch the debates, scandals and campaigns for the upcoming elections, I sit back and wonder at how so many things have changed in politics while at the same time staying the same. Maybe I’m a throwback to a simpler time, an era that still believed in truth, justice and the American way, but is that really so bad? Maybe. Because as good as that sounds, they had their issues too, their own set of growing pains that threatened to rip this country apart. Now we have different issues with the same results, the only difference is we get our ever changing “news” instantly and quite often erroneously.
We’ve become a society that needs everything boiled down to the very essence, forgetting that sometimes it’s the process that helps us figure out what is best and what is not. While we’d like to think everything is black and white, life doesn’t work that way – it’s all shades of grey mixed in like a strange glue to two different sides of the same fact. How can we tell who is telling us the truth then? We can’t. Not the way we as a people are going about it now, not while we expect someone else to spoon feed us the proper information.
Do you remember the research projects in Middle and High School? I do. My parents would get upset with me because the last two weekend before my deadline they’d have to take me to the library and wait most of the day while I scoured through periodicals, ask the librarian for advice as to find that elusive piece of information, make copies and notes before finally… finally look at them with bleary eyes and say, “OK, I think I have enough for now.” My teachers expected a bibliography page and footnotes, and yes, they let you know that although they most likely wouldn’t check each and every fact, you didn’t know they wouldn’t either – it was the process that counted, the research skills to make an informed decision about a subject. Now, look around and tell me what you see. I’ve watched two of my children do “research papers” and I cringe. I want to stand on the roof and shout, “WIKIPEDIA IS NOT CONSIDERED A RELIABLE INFORMATION SOURCE!!!” I don’t, of course, mainly because of the guys in the white suits already watching me closely. However, it shows the degeneration of the art of research and I have to say, it’s no wonder our media outlets are in the state they’re in today.
I used to have in depth discussions with my G’ma about anything and everything. She would laugh at some of the newsworthy bits that came across the TV sometimes, often amazed that that was considered news (most likely a piece of celebrity gossip that made front page consideration for a week). I’d share my concerns and she’d nod and agree and then tell me that she understood, she had been through it herself… decades before. It made me realize that we, as a whole, hadn’t learned from our mistakes and seem to be in a constant holding pattern of repetition. The economy is going to falter, human rights will be debated and trampled on, free speech with come and go, and bigotry will exist with only the recipient of that hatred changing from decade to decade. However, I can’t help but worry that our reactions to such things have gotten stronger, more dangerous, more deadly.
You hear about older people reminiscing about how much better life was in their day. How people still respected each other, you lived within your means or did without, times could be tough but that made you appreciate the good ones even more. How convenient age is when you can only see the good instead of the bad, or at least dull the painful parts to a more romanticized level. Thinking about our present and looking into our uncertain future, it makes me look forward to when my grandchildren will look and me and say, “Grandma… tell me about the good old days!”