Time For a Long Look At Ourselves

Time for me to get back in the saddle.  It is time to write great things.

If you’re like a lot of us beyond the age of 60, you’re probably scratching your head wondering what has happened to the world around us.

The answer?

We’ve become a bunch of self-absorbed, easily offended, politically correct crybabies bent on feeling sorry for ourselves.

We’ve become a society of Professional Victims.

Sound like anyone you know?

You know this is not the way we were raised by “The Greatest Generation” a lifetime ago.  The fiercely committed generation that brought us up, who are nearly extinct in 2021, were the “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” generation. They endured tough times and became stronger for it. They didn’t complain and did what they had to in tougher times than we’ve ever witnessed.  They didn’t tolerate any whiny-assed self pity from us.  What few are left look at us and our offspring wondering what happened to their message, which seems to have been lost over time.  If they observed us feeling sorry for ourselves growing up, we got cuffed on the back of the head and were told to go out and play.

My mother (far left) and close friends on a hot summer day in 1944 in wartime. They understood how to enjoy the company of one another without cell phones and laptops.

My mother often repeated, “Life isn’t fair and never will be…stop expecting it to be…”

She understood what she was talking about.  My mother, born in 1923, lived through tuberculous in her teens and was in bed for six months through miserable Washington, D.C. heat and humidity long before there was air conditioning. She didn’t have television. All she had was her imagination and her love of books. If she was lucky, she had a radio.  My mother and her big brother, my Uncle Wayne, lived through the Great Depression and a world war.  She watched him go off to war in the Pacific in 1942.  He was gone for four long years with no promise he would ever return. Thousands of fighting patriots did not. Those who did return were maimed, emotionally damaged, and forever changed by what they’d been through.  

My mother and her counterparts understood how to do without during the Great Depression and in the war years to follow. Times were tough and didn’t appear to be getting any better.  They understood hardship and how to cope with it. They didn’t whine about it.  They were tough. They were also compassionate and took care of their own.  They understood the importance of saving for a rainy day—and there would surely be the storms. Our parents and mentors understood this. They never took the good times for granted. They knew life could turn on a dime. They’d been there. 

We obviously didn’t get it.

Baby Boomers and close behind GEN Xers are the most fortunate generation to have lived in the most prosperous time in American history.  The post-World War II years spawned the most robust economy the world has ever seen. The Jet Age. Man on the Moon. Color TV. Fast muscle cars. Video players. Microwave ovens and automatic dishwashers. Global Positioning. The internet. Cell phones.

What more has there been to want? 

We have lived in the greatest period of opportunity in American history. Time to ask ourselves how we can best give back to a nation that has given us so much.

Many of us bought our first homes in our twenties right out of college and vocational school. I bought my first home while serving in the United States Air Force.  Most of us have owned at least two cars.  We’ve snapped up vacation homes, boats, round-the-world cruises, man and girl caves, three-car garages, pools and hot tubs, tennis courts, billiard rooms, second mortgages, and a host of other personal luxuries in record numbers. We’ve been rocket fuel for the endless “gotta have it!” economy. 

We’ve inspired our offspring to do the same.

It is time for an uncomfortable introspective look at ourselves.

Instead of asking yourself what you can do for yourself – ask what you can do for others. When was the last time you asked what you can do for a greater cause than yourself?

Always someone – or a body of people – who could use your help and support. Not just cash or a family heirloom. Just yourself. How about reaching out to the lonely, the sick, the confined, those who are dying, those without hope who need a lift – your ear, love, and moral support. Young people need our support now more than ever. They’re going to be in charge of society when we are but a memory.

How can you best reach out in your spare time?

We are a nation of lonely souls. Lonely alone. And – lonely surrounded by loved ones and friends.  Lonely hearts from sea to shining sea who could use our help. Hope…

There are the haves and the have nots. Those with luck and those without. A cop stops you in a radar trap when some jerk passed you up five minutes ago. Doesn’t seem fair does it?   You may have cancer or some other dangerous disease and think “why me?” Or the flip side – a dear friend, a neighbor, your spouse, your kid, your very best friend—with a dreadful terminal disease. “Why them and not me?”

That would make you thoughtful instead of selfish.

Life is the darnedest irony at times now isn’t it?

However – life is this. We are each on our own journeys. We are each a specific blueprint. We have a beginning and we will surely have an end. Be not envious of someone’s success. That’s their journey. We each make our own success – and failure. Sometimes, we become a victim of circumstances and an unfortunate twist of fate. I’ve had my embarrassment, my shame, my pain. I’ve also had my time in the sun. Great friends and loved ones.  I am blessed beyond imagination.

Thank You, Father… Thank You for my blessings and……Thank You also for my pain.

My pain…my tears… Moments that have made me appreciate the good times….the love of others….the support.

Thank You…

Perhaps it is time for our self absorbed society to turn inward for a look at how each of us needs to change ourselves for the better.

What can we each personally do for others?

One at a time – with selfless tenacity – we stand to get better.

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