Saturday, February 28, 2009

Of grace and acceptance

When I look at the younger generation, I despair of the future of civilisation." -- Aristotle, 300 BC

Not exactly an original thought, is it? Who among us over forty-something hasn't worried about the future because we just don't understand kids today? And if you're like me, as I suspect, you are also annoyed that over the years you have apparently turned into your own father.

He was a good, strong man in every way; a loving dad and a good provider. He could make me think, make me smile and he hugged me when I needed courage. But at some point he just stopped going along with all the nonsense.

My dad used to rail against the collapse of American values, the corruption in American politics and the loss of American jobs (to China, mainly.) He figured all the problems in this country started in millions of homes at empty dinner tables while moms as well as dads conducted their own lives outside of the house. Kids were left to raise themselves, he'd say. Parents, feeling a certain amount of guilt -- though, not enough to stay home and mind the store -- would allow the kids freedoms they weren't ready to enjoy responsibly.

Life, my dad thought, had gone down the crapper. As he put it to me more than once, "I like people individually but as a species we're not worth a damn."

Sometimes I think that way, too. It annoys me, not because I'm channeling my dad but because it feels like a sign of giving up. I'm edging closer to the rocking chair and I don't want to go there.

Yesterday the Rocky Mountain News published its last edition. Newspapers across the country are losing their grip on the Information Age. There is just too much competition from electronic gadgets and cyber sources. Nobody wants to read anymore. "News" is gleaned from sound bites on television and YouTube. Nobody wants to talk anymore. Our kids would rather text and twitter than actually talk with their friends on the phone and I suspect it has to do with convenience. Oh sure, talking is easier than texting but it lacks the convenience of not having to listen.

As I watch the world evolve beyond my personal comfort zone I have come to understand why each succeeding generation eventually reaches a point where it can't or won't keep up. We all fall victim to the inevitable grip of nostalgia and wistful expressions of "Back in the good old days..." We long for a simpler time that probably wasn't really simpler, we were just younger.

We just get tired, I think. That's okay but when we do that we have to accept a very hard truth: time is passing us by and our culture won't stop to wait for us to catch up.

Whether that is aging gracefully or giving up, you'll have to decide for yourself.


Bonus blog: My buddy Chuck Woodbury is about my age and has spent most of his adult life doing what the rest of us just dream of: traveling. He has seen this country every which way from west to east and outside in. He's a Charles Kuralt of print and has logged as many words as he has miles, writing in his beloved Out West newspaper and he is now the owner and editor of

Chuck's personal blog is a constant delight of heart and simplicity. He's a "stop and smell the coffee" kinda guy. Check it out here. You'll love it.

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