Archive for Monday, March 16, 2015

Birthday brings awareness of technological, societal progress

March 16, 2015

A week or so ago I celebrated my 78th birthday, which officially reaffirms my title of “old goat.” Yes, I can tell I’m older – I no longer shoot baskets, play catch or for that matter move very fast. But as I have said before, getting older is better than the second choice.

One of my daughters asked about all the changes I’ve seen in my lifetime. At first I couldn’t think of much, but the more I pondered about it, the answer became obvious. A lot has changed since that snowy night in March 1937, when I was born. Most of the change has been good but certainly not all of it.

I was born on the kitchen table at my grandparents’ home. In those late Depression days, being born at home wasn’t that uncommon. Now, unless there is an emergency, all babies are born in the hospital.

Yes, the world was a lot different then. The biggest change was looming on the horizon – World War II. I grew up in an era when every facet of home life was centered on the war effort. There were no summer recreation programs for two reasons. The first was the war, and after that ended, we lived in fear of polio. I am thankful that vaccines were developed to end the epidemic. While expensive, I’m glad there are drugs available to both prolong life and make it more enjoyable.

Transportation has changed. Then railroads and the busses were probably the most popular means of transportation. The development of new and safer highways made automobile travel number one. For longer trips, airlines have taken over. In fact, the improvement of air travel has made the world smaller.

Cars are a lot better now. When I started to drive, nearly every vehicle had standard transmission, which was more difficult. Cars didn’t have turn indicators, so you had to stick your arm out of the window and indicate what you were planning to do. Now cars have so many safety features it is totally amazing. Yes, vehicles will probably drive themselves in the next few decades.

Television was virtually unknown when I was born. For entertainment people listened to radio programs or went to the movies. I think TV is one of the biggest entertainment improvements in my lifetime. Being a sports fan, there is always a game on.

On the subject of sports, today’s athletes are a lot better. I’m glad I grew up in an era when 155-pounders could play high school football and a 185-pound middle linebacker could play small college football.

Most improvements are both good and bad. Take the Internet for example – it has improved communications and made knowledge much easier to ascertain. The bad is that it allows dishonest individuals to make untrue statements and hide behind a shield of secrecy. The same is true with most social media. But like all improvements, it will be refined and certainly much more civil in the next 75 years. We need to use the Internet for good, not as a platform for those who want to spread rumors.

Probably one of my pet peeves in the modern world is the continuation of intolerance. We need to accept everyone and to appreciate everyone regardless of differences.

I have a smaller frustration with the modern world, and it is telemarketing. Really I see no justification for someone 1,000 miles away to interrupt my day and try to sell me something that I don’t want.

Yes, the world has changed in 78 years, and I find myself wondering what changes are on the horizon in the next 78 years. It is my sincere hope that life will be better and that we will all live in harmony.


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