Once upon a time: Part Two

In my previous post (Once Upon a Time: Part One), I reminisced about a time during my lifetime that was different from today. Possibly, I am just a dreamer about how I thought things were back when I was growing up. Maybe my memory has just grown a bit foggy. Or, perhaps the old guys living in rural Southern Illinois back in the 50’s and 60’s were right about the “good old days.” Anyway, please indulge me as a I share some of the things I miss about those days. For those of you born after 1990 or so, you’ll swear that the life and times I describe could only have been true in Mayberry USA. Anyway, this is my take….

In Part One, is spoke about 7 things I miss from the old days. Let me recap:

  1. Resilience during difficult times – the grit to persevere when things don’t go your way
  2. Patience – willingness to sacrifice what you want now for something better later on
  3. Willingness to “earn it” (versus a sense of entitlement) – an understanding and determination to put in the long, hard, tiresome work necessary to gain something special versus expecting gain simply because of your education, status, sex, race, wealth, looks, position, presence, or connections
  4. Freedom of thought (and the drive to fight for it) – ability to offer differing views (sometimes opposite views) and have meaningful debate without fear of reprisal, cancellation, hatred, separation, punishment, or harassment AND having the guts to fight for what is right whether or not it is currently politically expedient
  5. Patriotism – an unwavering and deep respect for our country and those that sacrificed for the freedoms we currently enjoy; placing our country’s best interests ahead of our personal interests
  6. Affirmations of standards of behavior – recognizing that there is a right and a wrong path of behavior, striving to adhere to those right standards of behavior, and affirming that something is not right simply because a majority of individuals (or the loudest individuals) say it is so
  7. Willingness to submit – putting yourself under the authority of someone else, then supporting that authority to the best of your ability whether or not you always agree with that authority’s actions

In Part Two, we’ll discuss the next seven of 21 things I miss, starting with…

8. Appreciation for excellence (versus expediency) – A few years ago, my son and his family lived in Brussels, Belgium for a couple of years. In central Brussels, there is an area called The Grand Place (or Grote Markt). Here is a remarkable collection of public and private buildings built mostly in the late 17th century that are famous for their extreme craftsmanship and opulence. The detailed work on each building is amazing and obviously created with an extreme appreciation for excellence. And, you have to remember that the craftsman if that time did not have the tools available today… their work was created by their hands over a long period of time. Do we appreciate that level of excellence today or are we more interested in expediency? It has been said that you can have things fast, cheap, or good… pick any two. It just seems that cheap and fast always trump the good these days. Even in recent decades, it seems that individuals are now less concerned with how good they do something than whether they did it fast or at low cost. There is a sense of accomplishment in doing something really well. I hope this hasn’t been lost forever.

9. Sense of hope – How would you answer this question, “Are there more individuals in your circle that are hopeful or hopeless?” I grew up in the 1960’s… a time of great turmoil with Viet Nam, riots, assassinations, societal change, etc. Yet, as I recall, it was a hopeful time. It was a time when we were preparing to send a man to the moon. It was a time to recognize the worth of all individuals. It was a time when most believed that the future held promise. That doesn’t seem to be the case today. Most individuals are caught up in the belief that the world is doomed; that we are headed for a civil war; that financial and support systems are falling apart; that these are the best days we’ll ever see. Hope is that feeling or expectation and desire that something good will happen. It is an optimism for something or a time in the future. We need to believe that there is something to look forward to. We need to hold firm that the difficulties of today are temporary. We need to believe that our best days are not in the past. Individually, we all need to have an eternal hope. Please take the time to read more about my “hope” here at this link (What is your hope?).

10. Honesty/Truth – I am amazed today at the importance of “spin.” Politicians need to “spin” certain events or situations. Our industry leaders must properly “position” bad news. We are often given a “narrative” rather than the simple truth. Why? When I was a kid, honesty was considered a virtue. To my parents, the truth was considered an absolute necessity. Now, I am afraid, many are being taught that truth is relative rather than an absolute. Some would prefer that their children learn how to twist circumstances to meet a desired end than to simple be honest. Maybe I am being naïve, but I miss the days when you would “say what you mean and mean what you say.”

11. Willingness to sacrifice – It is not rare today to read of an individual making an extreme sacrifice for someone else. Just in the last week, I heard of an individual risking his life to save others from a burning car. However, I believe in general that our society today struggles to sacrifice for the greater good. I think it would be challenging for our society today to put aside personal ambitions, property, and comfort to fight a common foe… much less agree that there is such a thing as a common foe. President John F. Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Living a life of sacrifice means putting the needs, wants, and desires of others ahead of our own. I long for a time when sacrifice defines our society rather than represents that rare individual.

12. Common sense – A friend and I have often discussed the need to create the “court of common sense.” In our world, we would decide issues based on common sense… nothing else. We wouldn’t be bound by legal precedent, legal language, lawyers, arguments, etc. We would simply apply fair common sense. To me, it seems the world has turned upside down in the last couple of decades. What was once right is now wrong; what was wrong is now right and, in fact, it is celebrated. Just this week, an individual attacked a political candidate with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill him yet was released later that day because of the progressive approach to “justice.” In the court of common sense, this would simply not be allowed. Where are the individuals willing and able to utilize common sense to restore order to a challenging and broken world?

13. Contentment – I remember the only janitor in my school as a kid. His name was Gilley (probably Gilbert) Hawley. Gilley was always a positive encourager. He would stand in the hallway as we all went to the lunchroom and greeted every single person. He would post positive news and encouragements on his “office” doorway where he singled out individuals for their efforts in sports or other activities. In short, though he might have had the opportunity to complain about his fate in life, he was just the opposite. I think Gilley may have actually inspired many students to pass on higher education because they wanted to have the happiest job in the world… janitor. Gilley exhibited contentment. He was satisfied to shine in his corner of the world. We should be inspired by Gilley and be content with making a difference to others no matter our lot in life.

14. Choosing to do what is right – Choices… the sum total of all the choices we make in life define our character. Someone once defined character as “doing what is right no matter who is watching or even if no one would know.” I think today, individuals are more concerned with how something might look or what others might think than they are about doing the right thing. I heard someone recently say, “Just because everyone around you wants something to be true does not make it true.” I long for the day when doing the right thing is honored, rather than discouraged; when individuals are applauded for doing the right thing in the face of adversity; and where every seeks to “do the right things in the right way at the right time.”

So, there you have it… my next group  of 7 things I miss. I’m sure your list would be different than mine, but I would hope that we would have quite a bit of overlap. Think about it… what do you miss from days in the past?

In part 3, we’ll discuss the last 7 items which will include:

  • Doing things that matter
  • Hard work
  • Basic kindness
  • Experiencing and expressing joy
  • Gratitude
  • Sense of commitment
  • Belief in God

I will also talk some about what actions we can individually and collectively take to restore some of the positive attributes, actions, and attitudes we miss from our youth.

More to come…. Have a great day.

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