Change the World

By | August 25, 2022
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Change the World

When I was in high school and later, college, my friends and I all thought the establishment consisted of a bunch of rich, old, gray-haired men who sat upon velvet thrones and decreed idiotic and senseless decrees to all us peons in the world. We were not going to let that continue once we grew up and took the reigns. We were going to make the world a better place.

We were going to change the world!

Yesterday, on the way to breakfast with an old friend, I stopped at a local gas station/convenience store to pick up a copy of “USA Today”. While I was parking in front of the store, I noticed a dozen or so metal posts – filled with cement – placed strategically between the store and the parking lot to prevent crazed, mentally irregular drivers from intentionally – or unintentionally – driving vehicles into the store and hurting people (and let’s not forget property).

Being that now I’m getting old, these bright-red concrete-filled metal posts reminded me that we failed… we did not make the world a better place. We changed it all right. But we didn’t make it a better place, instead, we made it a worse place – but the jury will always be out on that, I guess. It’s my observation. But when I was growing up, I sure don’t recall businesses and public buildings being targets of crazed drivers. No big red poles back in those days.

In retrospect, it seems my generation was more interested in bicycle helmets, car seats, seat belts, and not offending anyone, than making the world a better place. If the establishment I grew up with was motivated by excessive greed, then it seems my generation only made it worse. My generation is full of people who worship money and will do anything for money… and/or power.

I’m not so sure if that’s so different than past generations or if it just seems so. Maybe it was worse in the age of the Robber Barons… the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, Carnegies, Flaglers, Cookes — or maybe there were just fewer people that had a lot of money?

That’s not how it was supposed to work out – we were the generation that believed in love and peace and the brotherhood of mankind. We were going to change the world…for the better.

Peace out, brother! How did that work out?

Not very well. While we the “younger generation” wearing tie-dyed t-shirts, peace symbols, and singing “All we are saying is give peace a chance…”, as the war in Vietnam raged on.

And today, we live in a world that was shaped by my generation. We could have made it better, but we didn’t. I’m wondering if today’s young people, once they pull their heads out of their smartphones want to change the world and make it a better place world too? 

The only thing it seems my generation changed successfully was making it a societal taboo to offend someone – even if what we’re saying is true. Our grandkids eat more healthy foods in school than we did… I think. They wear bicycle helmets and seat belts to keep them safe, but we can’t keep them safe in school. Now schools have what they euphemistically call “active shooter drills”. 

When I was in high school the older folks were rolling their eyes and sighing “What is this generation coming to?” But that’s because the boys were wearing long hair and the girls wore miniskirts. But one thing I never worried about in school was being shot and killed.

That came later. I had the draft board to help me with that.

My high school and college days coincided with the Vietnam war. Back then, many people were in an uproar – the ones who opposed the war versus the ones who supported it. My world was torn apart by a distant war, but I never had to endure “active shooter” drills in school. We had fire drills and we had tornado drills… and we protested the lousy food in the cafeteria -mostly just a puerile attempt to rattle the elders.

It is hard to admit this, but I have to: My generation planted the seeds that led us to now. Controlling guns won’t control killing –it’s the people who are out of control. Maybe it’s because there is a widening gap between the rich and the poor. Maybe it’s because the once-powerful, “silent” majority we used to call “the middle class” is slowly being eviscerated and now is in danger of disappearing leaving only the super-rich and the super-poor with nothing but a dark abyss in between. 

When I was growing up, television shows reflected not so much our middle-class values, but more what society so much wanted to be. If you’re old enough to remember “Ozzie & Harriet”, “Leave it to Beaver”, “Father Knows Best”, “My Three Sons”, “The Donna Reed Show”, then you’ll remember halcyon days when dad always wore a tie and mom a dress at dinner. And everyone ate together at the kitchen or dining room table. And only on Saturdays could dad toss the tie and mom exchange the dress for slacks or “Bermuda” shorts.

That was the American ideal. But it doesn’t work that way anymore. In every one of those shows, mom stayed home and kept the house and made dinner — and dad made the money. And dad would come home from work and expect dinner on the table. Those were the good old days. Really? I’m sure many ladies would not agree with that.

But changing the world and making it a better place is something we all want – and want to do. It’s just not that easy. Maybe it’s not the generation – maybe it’s just human nature. Perhaps the world will only be a better place when it gets so bad even the rich and powerful are down and out, oppressed and powerless. Perhaps only then will it really change.

One thing is for sure – my generation changed the world but we certainly didn’t make it a better place.

Millions of people are still starving, people are still dying in wars, kids are getting shot in schools, and greed still rules so much of our world. And as long as money equals power, I don’t see much hope that the world will change for the better.

We can still change the world and make it a better place. No matter how old or young you are, or how rich or poor you are, how powerful or powerless you are — you can change the world and make it a better place starting today.

Today, you can do one nice thing for someone you don’t know – a stranger. Do something nice because you want to. I am pretty sure they won’t expect it. I bet you that you will put a smile on two faces – the face of the stranger you helped… and your own.

If every one of us did one good deed or one kindness for a stranger every day, the world would be a better place despite all the bad things going on around us. Maybe many things are out of our control. Maybe we can never change the way the world is, but each of us can make the world a better place.

We can all do something today that can change the world and make it a better place.

3 thoughts on “Change the World

  1. Sharon

    I agree with you. Changing the world starts with each of us. Don’t wait for the other guy to be kind or helpful or banish hate and cruelty.

    Reply
  2. Philip Reeves

    Unfortunately it takes people to change the world. Music alone cannot. There were so many people just riding a wave back then. When the wave went back out to sea, the belief in peace and love went with it. The Moody Blues said it best. We’ re just the singers in a rock and roll band. I still believe. I always have. I was born before my time. Then it finally arrived. Now it’s just a fading memory. But the memory is mine. No one can take it away’ For a brief moment people really cared.

    Reply
  3. Joann Bolen

    It was a very interesting article – very interesting. It was some facts, some memories & some great ideas. I would like to be able to remember every day that is it is possible I could do an act of random kindness. I love to smile at people I don’t even know or a new neighbor walking a pet. I would love to nod &/or smile at each person I pass entering & leaving a market. I would like to remember to wish a good week or week-end to every cashier who wishes me a good day. I love to remember to mail out birthday cards, get-well cards & sympathy cards to every person/family I know who needs one or the other.
    Thank you for your article. Truly it was very interesting.

    In friendship, Joann Bolen

    Reply

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