Today happens to be the anniversary of my birth. No big deal, but whereas some people celebrate their birthday for me it’s always been more a day of reflection on where I’m going, where I came from and what’s important to me. There are obvious entries in each of those categories — at least there are if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time but today I’m thinking more on a macro scale than a micro one.
While much of the world seems to know exactly how well things are going, The U.S. is one of only a few countries where there is no popular consensus about whether times are better or worse than they were 50 years ago. This survey was taken in Spring of 2017 but I’ll bet that even if it had been taken one, or two, or even five years ago the results for the U.S. would not have been much different. Granted, we are beset at the moment by this GOP Administration that seems determined to reverse the social and scientific societies to what they were in 1950 — not a step in the right direction because our global competition is looking ahead, not behind — still the present condition of citizens hasn’t actually changed very much in the last several years. And, our division as a people has been ongoing politically for 12-20 years depending on how you read election results.
Walt Kelly, creator of the Pogo cartoon strip was an early Disney animator and illustator, beginning with Disney in 1936. He worked for Dell Comics, newspapers and honing his craft until he settled in to his final career move as a cartoonist and the strip Pogo. Pogo was syndicated to newpapers for 26 years, continuing 2 years past the creator’s death until 1975. There aren’t many of us around who grew up with Pogo, more’s the pity for that.
It would be nice if our most serious questions in life were as simple as “is life better or worse today than it was 50 years ago”. There are so many areas where humankind seems poised at the brink of oblivion: nuclear war, global warming, extinction of species and on and on the list goes.
Barring global nuclear war I’m pretty sure I’ll live out my life naturally. I’m not sure my granddaughter will be able to do the same.
The thing is, we become the things we think about. There’s a reason that not many politicians write age-enduring works of literature. There’s a reason not many lawyers moonlight as comedians. There’s a reason that poor people sometimes like to make a show of their meager possessions — because for them that possession is a major event. People in professions behave as they are trained to behave. People who ascend the class ladder like to celebrate their successes. And the more we give in to any of these behaviors the more we reinforce the new person we are becoming.
I wonder how much time a current-day politician spends in the wilderness — or for that matter alongside a mountain stream fishing. The predicament in that Earth Day poster — about the way in which we have junked up nature is manifest in so many more ways today than it was then 47 years ago, but I wonder how often any of the members of the legislative, or executive, or judicial branches of national government actually spend “out in nature.” It’s hard to appreciate what you are ignorant about; hard to know the stench of pollution until you’ve smelled it.
If you want to be understood
you have to make yourself
Back in the days when I was calling on customers in the field I had a boss who cautioned me that I had to learn to speak the listener’s language. If I was out to persuade someone of my point of view it was my obligation to make myself understood — the listener had no obligation to understand what I was saying as a visitor to his establishment. I sometimes wonder why more people don’t understand that. And I certainly don’t understand why there is so much whining about things — as for example on Facebook — don’t people realize that just complaining about something isn’t going to change a doggone thing?
Gender equality, human rights, voter fraud, Net Neutrality — and a million other causes — aren’t going to be addressed until we recognize that WE are part of the problem. We are the enemy. We contribute to the problem in various ways; and once we have done that we don’t care enoug about the problem to do anything strong enough to effect change.
A few years ago there was a big push around the idea of
Thing Global, Act Local
Today you hear the expression in lots of places, and lots of applications. Such thinking has done a lot to affect a good number of people but the level on which “Think Global, act Local” affects legislation and government is infinitesimal. Any attempt to address global warming isn’t going to be successful by U.S. citizens riding bikes to work instead of driving cars. The scale of the problem is much larger than the scale of the solution thus far.
We all need to look harder at how we get involved. We all need to find more effective means of influencing others and making our feelings known.