Tuesday, September 7, 2010

is there no going back?

People will come Ray. They'll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack.

There has been a lot of chatter recently regarding the need to “restore America”. So it got me thinking… is there a particular date in time we want to restore?

I walked down my street the other day and thought about the people who live on my block. These are good people, neighbors who are willing to lend a hand, watch out for each others’ kids. They get involved in the community, many go to church or synagogue, they keep their homes neat.

My neighbors are OK, so I guess it’s you and your friends that are causing all the problems.

Over the past two scores and seven years, I have lived in poor, congested city blocks and upper middle-class suburbs. And when I think about the moral character of my neighbors, their honor, their values… the only conclusion that makes any sense is that people are people… much like they have always been. The kids my children hang out with look, sound and act a lot like the kids I want to school with some thirty-off years ago. So what exactly are we trying to restore?

In one blog discussion, a man wrote about how this nation was going downhill, and he talked about rising crime, more abortions, an increase in divorce and a host of other metrics that reflect on our country’s values. The problem, however, is that facts show otherwise.

Violent crime is at its lowest point in 35 years
• The homicide rate is at its lowest point in 45 years
• The abortion rate has steadily declined since 1984
• The divorce rate hasn’t been as low since 1970
• Heck, even the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico is down

The charitable spirit of America remains high – including a record $300 billion in donations and hundreds upon hundreds of millions of hours volunteered in areas in need, such as New Orleans.

So I wonder, what exactly are we looking to restore?

Look up any point in time in America’s history and you can cite instances of corruption, hate and selfishness… as well as beauty, caring, respect and love.

When you think about what has changed in America in recent years—there are probably three factors that have contributed most to the current “restoration” meme.

1. 24/7 Information Access
We’ve gone from a half-hour of Walter Cronkite to a non-stop barrage of cable news, Internet stories and email chains. As bad news, tragedy and evil provide for good ratings, we are inundated in negative news.

2. The Global Economy
We import more than we export, and for the past ten years about 5% of the US GDP has been transferred to other countries—in essence redistributing wealth around the world.

3. Income Distribution
We have increasingly become a nation of haves and have nots. When I was younger, there was a sense that everyone in the “middle class” was in it together. Today, the upper middle class has broken away from the pack. In the past 40 years, the income of the lower middle class and middle class has risen less than 30%, while the upper middle class (57%) and upper class (74%) have experienced significantly higher gains. (And let's not even discuss the rich.)

In simplest terms we know more, other countries are improving and we no longer share a common lifestyle. But as far as I know, no one wants to give up their Internet, low-cost products or paychecks.

So I pose the question to you… has America changed? Should we go back—or move forward? Are people different today? Or do we simply romanticize about the past, just as our forefathers remembered the good old days?

People will come Ray. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.


Anonymous said...

there is a balance to be sought in the looking back and the looking forward, while living in the ever changing present.

thank you for your kind comment today.

Kansas Bob said...

Good stuff Ed. Can't believe it took me a week to see it.