Tuesday, September 22, 2009

But Dad, You Don't Understand........

That's what son Son Jeff said to me twenty or so years ago.

"But Dad, you don't understand. Things are different nowadays." And so they are.
I suspect one of his children (and maybe some other grandchildren) will say to others
of our children in the years or decades ahead. I have to agree that things are not today
what they were when I was growing up. And I worry about changes we've experienced and
I worry about what changes lie ahead for our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

I've just finished reading book titled "Marching Home" written by Kevin Coyne. It begins
toward the end of the Great Depression in the late 1930's and focuses on six young men growing up in Freehold, New Jersey. They become sailors, soldiers, and airmen in World War Two, survive, and come back home again after the war. Then the book offers a narrative of their lives after the war -- the changes that went on on in their town in post-war years - manufacturing plants closing - their rural atmosphere being converted to a bedroom community - and the changes in priorities that became part of society from the mid-sixties up to recent years.
And yes, things have changed but as some might say, "That's life".

My wife talks about her growing up years in Detroit. At one time her house was the only house on the street - by the time I met her it was wall-to-wall homes and today the crowded
housing spreads for miles and miles west and the environment of where she grew up has radically changed. I think of when a major retailer put up a store outside of a town where we
lived and the home-town stores in the town center fell by the wayside. Small mom-and-pop stores fell by the wayside and major chain management from out of state got rich at the cost of home town life. You've got to have lived in a time when Main Street was just what the name implies - the main center of town where families and friends gathered to shop and visit and live a life that was personal and neighborly. I have a hunch that some of our children don't know what I'm talking about because they, for the most part, have let modern lifestyle and values become a way of life. Yes, times are different and I probably don't understand why our values and priorities have gone the way they have because the priorities fifty years ago were pretty good.

So what's the difference? We (as a nation) has deteriorated. In business. In personal values. In moral values. In national pride. In politics. And it's not getting better. In some ways it is live for today - who cares about tomorrow -- tomorrow will take care of itself. But what will tomorrow bring?

Coyne's book says this: "The small town is no longer the typical American way of life. Today's society is increasingly mobile, urban, impersonal, anonymous; it is no longer capable of enforcing its moral and behavioral codes simply by force of community opinion.....today thousands of Americans live in fear -- crime is our nations number one internal problem."
To go a step further, we've lost our sense of values and have embraced a life of permissiveness.

When I was a teenager I don't think I worried about what the world might become in fifty years. I might have said to MY father, "Dad, You don't understand. Things are different from when you were growing up." The older I get, and the more years that pass, the more concern I have for what my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will experience forty or fifty years from now. And I wonder if they will feel the same way I do today.

By the way, the town Coyne talked about is Bruce Springsteen's home town. I wonder what he thinks of the world today.

I pray for our children and their children in the years ahead.

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