Are things getting better or worse?


"Things are getting better, yet people always think things are getting worse."

When I heard that, it stopped me in my tracks. It seems to be completely opposite of the way I’ve been thinking lately: Things are getting worse, yet people think things are better. I think it’s worth looking at, peeking around the corner a bit, just to see what’s on the other side. Hey, if something comes out of the blue that affronts a long-held belief, then it’s worth a look-see, right?

One of the major things about getting old is that it’s harder to remember things. Well, no shit, Sherlock. As time goes on, there’s a lot more things that happen, it all accumulates, piles up and gets deep. What, we’re supposed to remember it all? I mean, isn’t it logical that a 20 year old with only 7,300 days to his name could remember something that happened a few years ago compared to a 50 year old with 18,000 days to sift through? See what I mean?  There’s no Fading Memory Syndrome; it’s just plain math. There’s just way too many things to remember, even for the sharpest Crayon in the box. It’s the needle-in-a-haystack thing, and my haystack is reaching mountainous proportions, ok?

The other day, an image was circulating Facebook that said something along the lines of, “Calories: those gremlins in your closet shrinking your clothes.” OK, now that they are identified, where’s the bug spray for it? Surely we’re smart enough by now to come up with an antidote for our growing poundage.

Hazy memory and all, it’s not hard to remember going to the grocery store and buying food instead of chemicals. Way back when they first came out with TV dinners, they were just as poor an excuse for food as they are now. But, instead of getting better, they just created more items labeled as food that are even worse. Go ahead and see for yourself. Right next to the age-old can of slimy noodles in chicken broth with the complimentary 3 microbial chunks of chicken for authenticity’s sake you’ll find an equally slimy excuse for potato soup and clam chowder and chow mien. A quick glance at the label’s listing of ingredients and you will see that we are all nothing more than drug addicts because we’re not ingesting food. Not even close. We are, collectively, existing on a diet solely made up of chemicals. Gremlins, indeed.

It hurts my head to think about it, but even the staunchest Republican can’t ignore the numbers that make up the great divide that is income disparity. My old memory ain’t so bad that I can’t recall the ability to earn a decent living, complete with a little pocket change after rent and utilities were paid. I remember the protests, the sit-ins, the rallies against the Vietnam War and the marches for civil rights. I also remember that we won a few battles along the way. My baby boomer generation fought long and hard for basic human dignities and equality, yet the Old Boy Network still has its death grip stronghold wringing the life out of life. “We are the 99%” might just as well get it over with and send the 1% our paychecks ‘cause they’re going to get it anyway. In the end, the baby boomers lost the war.

Cars are plastic, cheap garbage. Yet, a drive through the country and you’ll still see a few of the old steel dinosaurs going strong. I remember when Levi and Wrangler jeans were made in America and a pair lasted a good 10 years of rough wear and repeated washings. I remember when shoes were always made with leather, not plastic, and also made right in the great U. S. of A. Oranges came from Florida and California and corn came from the farm down the road a bit. Now, everything comes from somewhere else, and by the lack of quality, I suspect that ‘somewhere else’ is not on this planet.

I’ve seen a lot in my 50 odd years of existence. I’ve seen the advent of color TV, ball point pens, microwave ovens, touch-tone phones, cable and satellite TV, personal computers, the Internet and cell phones, to name a few. As exciting as all the advances have been, it is soured and tainted by the reality of it all happening for the sole purpose of greed. I am still looking for that one thing created for the betterment of mankind, distributed to everyone everywhere.

Can there ever be such a thing?

Then it hits me: This is all about things. Things are what we own, touch, ingest, and what drives us all to make money to buy these things. Our whole lives are wrapped up in this endless race to fill our bellies and our physical world. We all need to survive. It is survival, not an insatiable desire to consume as marketers want to believe. We are people, individuals, a society comprised of creativity and ingenuity.

At the core, people are good and have no desire to harm each other. People are so much more than the Darwinian notion of ‘survival of the fittest.’ People are good. It is against our nature, our hard-wiring to be greedy, ugly, selfish, harmful. We are good. You are good.

I think it’s time that we all remember that. That’s when things will get better.
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