Changes?

We’re all in this together. We are each part of the great whole of humanity. I have always believed this. Whatever changes happen in or to the world this remains true. My maternal grandmother, Genevieve Bullen, passed away in January of 2004. She was born in November of 1901. It is almost frightening to contemplate the number of changes that she saw in her lifetime. She saw the world go from horses and buggies to re-usable spacecraft. When I was thinking about that a couple of days ago it dawned on me the changes I’ve seen in my lifetime, though not of the staggering scope that Grandma saw, is still considerable. I grew up in the 1950’s. Despite nostalgic claims to the contrary, it was an era, which was every bit as prone to the sociological equivalent of mutiple personality disorder as we are now. On the one hand we were the country that slapped Hitler down! We had gone toEurope and kicked some major butt. Of course we didn’t dare express the thought in quite those terms. It would have been considered dangerously close to swearing in those days. On the other hand we lived in fear of the legacy of W W II’s other “great dictator”, Josef Stalin. The cold war was a going and highly profitable concern. It was the former attitude, however, with which I had the most experience as a boy. We felt that we could go anywhere and do anything. There was no acievement beyond our reach. Thousands of people delighted in trying to predict how far we could go with it all. They would tell us of the wonders to be found decades hence in the early years of the 21st century. Some of them seemed absurd. Some of them seemed like nearly impossible miracle. Some of them were more accurate than others. What was accurate? Well, when I was in the fourth grade, in our science class, they taught us about the great plans scientists had for putting a man on the moon. Now third-graders learn the same thing in their history class. We have instantaneous, worldwide communication. At a moment’s notice we can access a nearly limitless menu of entertainment and information. This has been a particular boon to the buisness of news gathering. Of couse, about half of it goes by so fast that you don’t have time to make sense of it all but, you can’t have everything. Even if you could, where would you put it? Computer technology has become part and parcel of almost everything we do. Back in the 50’s the very idea of being surrounded by computers scared us half to death. Now, what in the world would we do if we couldn’t call up our e-mail on our cell phones? We can clone things. As a matter of fact we’re cloning anything that can’t run away fast enough: sheep, goats, cats, dogs, rabbits. As for that last one,”WHY?” Talk about hauling coal to Newcastle! What was inaccurate? Well, we’re not all dressed like Flash Gordon. This is a good thing. No great super computer has arisen to take over the world and enslave us all. We did that all by ourselves with a whole bunch of little computers. This is maybe not such a good thing. The Cold War, which dominated the back half of the 20th century, did not end in a world shattering nuclear holocaust. Philosophers and social engineers have had endless hours of fun debating whether or not that was a good thing. We have not colonized other planets or set up mining operations on asteroids. I won’t kill a lot of time listing the woes of the space program in America. You know the drill. You’ve heard the list. Suffice to say that, optimistic observers not withstanding, I doubt that we’ll be seeing manned mission beyond our own moon until, at least, the time when our grandchildren are old enough to be setting the agenda and allocating the funds. So here we are on an ever shinking planet with an ever increasing population of diverse peoples, cultures and ideas which we are unlikely to leave any time soon. In short, we’re stuck with on another on this wretched, little mudball. There is, therefor, no intelligent reason that we should not be spending a lot more of our time and energy than we do just trying to get along with one another. We’re all in this together. We are each a part of the great whole of humanity.

Leave a comment

Add comment