Sunday, August 07, 2011

Reflecting on the past, and looking at
what may be our future

Among the thousands of email messages being passed around are two that combine for a thought-provoking scenario. Both have been edited a little, and shortened, but the gist of them is intact:

To all the kids who survived the 1930s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s

We survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can and didn't get tested for diabetes.

And we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had baseball caps on our heads, not helmets.

As infants and children we would ride in cars with no car seats, no booster seats, no seat belts, and no air bags. Riding in the back of a pick-up truck on a warm day was always a special treat. We drank water from the garden hose, not from a bottle. Four friends drank one soft drink from the same bottle, and no one got sick or died.

We ate cupcakes, white bread, real butter and bacon. We drank Kool-Aid made with real white sugar. And, we weren't overweight.

Why? Because we were always outside playing. When we weren’t in school we would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the street lights came on. We were out of touch with mom all day, and we were okay.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride them down the hill; only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have video games, no 150 channels on cable, no video tapes or DVD's, no surround-sound or CD's, no cell phones, no personal computers.

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits resulting from these accidents. We were given BB guns for our birthday, played “Army,” and “cowboys and Indians.”

Sports teams had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. And the idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

Those generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

Thanksgiving 2022

"Winston, come into the dining room, it's time to eat," Julia yelled to her husband. "In a minute, honey, it's a tie score," he answered.

Actually, Winston wasn't very interested in the traditional holiday football game. Ever since the government passed the Civility in Sports Statute of 2017, outlawing tackle football for its "unseemly violence," Winston was far less of a football fan than he used to be. Two-hand touch wasn't nearly as exciting.

Yet it was more the thought of eating another tofu turkey that Winston dreaded. Even though it was the best type of veggie-meat available after the government revised the American Anti-Obesity Act of 2018, adding fowl to the list of federally-forbidden foods, (which included potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce), it wasn't anything like real turkey.

And ever since the government officially changed the name of "Thanksgiving Day" to "A National Day of Atonement" in 2020, the holiday had lost a lot of its appeal.

Eating in the dining room was also a bit weird, due to the unearthly glow of government-mandated CFL light bulbs that made the tofu turkey look even worse, and the room was always cold, since Congress passed the Power Conservation Act of 2016, mandating all thermostats - which were monitored - be kept at 64 degrees in the fall and winter.

Winston missed his mother, who passed on in October, when she had used up her legal allotment of life-saving medical treatment. He had had many heated conversations with the Regional Health Consortium, spawned when the private insurance market finally went bankrupt, and everyone was forced into the government health care program. "Your mother received all the benefits to which she was entitled,” he was told. “I'm sorry for your loss."

Brother Ed couldn't make it, either. He had forgotten to plug in his electric car last night, mandated after the Anti-Fossil Fuel Bill of 2021 outlawed the use of the combustion engines.

Yet the family still had things to be thankful for, Winston thought. And, he had his memories.

But he felt sadness when he realized his children would never know what life was like in the Good Old Days. He wondered what might have happened if the public had stood up while there was still time, maybe back around 2011, when most of the real nonsense began.

"Maybe we wouldn't be where we are today if we'd just said 'enough is enough' when we had the chance," he thought.

Maybe so, Winston. Maybe so.

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