Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Answering the question: What are the the most important/dramatic events for good and ill that happened in your lifetime?

I'll soon get to the answer, but first I have to tell you of the good and the bad that happened to me this week.  Having had so much attention drawn to my blogging locally and worldwide on Reddit, I worked long and hard to give an erudite answer to the question of the week – I did little else for three days! And suddenly one simple computer error lost it all.

All of a sudden I knew that both bad and good occurred through that simple error. For bad was losing what I felt was a powerful statement about world peace and mental health . But I was also made to understand that I was trying to do too much.  Composing two blogs while trying to answer over 1000 questions was just too much for an old man.

I had found it so remarkable that so many young people were interested in the musings of an old man that they would ask almost 2000 perceptive and thoughtful questions.  Each one, I felt, deserved an answer. The questions were so heartfelt and sincere that I knew I would regret not answering as many as I possibly could. Thus rather than trying to prepare thoughtful essays on my rant, my efforts for the foreseeable future will be to answer the questions that were posed.  What a personal joy for me to be asked and able to respond!


The most important event in my mind for good of a worldwide nature was the creation of the United Nations.

The most important event in my mind of a negative nature in our country was the closure of mental hospitals for the mentally ill before we had planned appropriate treatment for patients.

I was truly surprised by my answers, and I am sure you are too.  I wish I had time to explain in full how dramatic I believe the two steps were in the pursuit of world peace and in our nation's failure to intelligently consider treatment for mental illness*.   Hopefully I'll return to both topics soon, just as I will share the two events of a personal nature that brought joy and sadness to me.  But they will need much background information.

*The failure of society to consider mental illness appropriately can best be illustrated, I believe, in the presidential campaign of 1972.  I wonder if young people are aware of it.  Thomas Eagleton, who had served two terms in the Senate, had been selected by George McGovern as his vice-presidential nominee.  Eagleton was forced to withdraw because it was later disclosed that he had previously been hospitalized for depression.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

You wrote that the country was divided before our entry into WWII. I'm surprised because the evil from Germany and Japan was so apparent that I sure thought we were united.

Ah!  We just can't get away from WWII.   I love a question that brings out the history teacher in me.
How important that we study history to learn from the lessons of the past. The above question comes those young people who did not realize that our country was not totally united in its eagerness to resist the Axis Powers in  the late 1930's.  I well remember the many, Keep US out of War: Be Neutral, signs that were on (real) bumpers, in store fronts and homes.  And there were a variety of organized groups proclaiming, American First!   Surely the leadership of Americas' newly crowned hero Charles Lindbergh, who became enamored with the industrial progress of Germany, also added to the opposition.  Of course the opposition also grew from the experience of World War I and the view that entering the wars of Europe (which were virtually a constant throughout history) was folly and America should stay free of any foreign entanglements.

All this changed of course with the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor.   However America's fascination with conspiracy theories continued as the hostility toward Roosevelt was so entrenched that many believed that attack was actually orchestrated by him and his administration in order to silence opposition to our support of the allied powers.. Lynne Olson's recently published book, "Those Angry Days" refers not to our present time, but to the time before WWII.  I highly recommend it.

I wonder how present day events might be changed had there been an opportunity for more enlightened discussion of the issues present before the war in Iraq began. In some ways it appears that war and the threat of war brings out the best and the worst in our country.

Next week I'll respond to a very frequently asked question, "What do you consider to be the most important/dramatic/events for both good and ill during your lifetime?  And I'll tackle it from both a worldwide and personal perspective.  I hope you will give it some thought to it as well.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What is one trend or device from your generation you would bring back?

Blog readers Stephanie's answer to this query was "I ofttimes wish I had a day or week without the Internet, smart phone and laptop." Amazingly this first (and only) response to the question was very similar to mine, "I'd bring back Sunday as a day of rest, almost all stores were closed, no work was done (except for mother preparing the big Sunday dinner) and children's play was to be on the quiet side."

And while it may have started from a religious tradition, I doubt that a majority of people went to church  even then. And as a child I often rebelled at having to stay indoors and play pickup sticks or Parcheesi. But the wisdom of this lifestyle was underscored for me by my grandson who spent a year in Germany. As a soccer aficionado he went to see if he could make his mark in a country where soccer rules. While he enjoyed his modest success at soccer, he totally fell in love with a more relaxed lifestyle in Germany, particularly the fact that Sunday was a much more relaxed day with very few stores open.  I'm afraid in America where individuality, capitalism and freedom rules, there is little likelihood of returning to those halcyon days. But there's nothing to keep individual families from doing things that make sense to them to improve their quality of life.  I well remember that as Regina and I were bringing up our four children (during what we thought were busy times) we held Friday night almost sacred as a FAMILY TIME.  I wonder how much that may have contributed tomy continuing joy of having a close knit family?

And once again disclosing my Germanic heritage and recent trips there and having visitors here from Germany, let me close with a few things I've gained recently from German insights and lifestyle.
  • I'm told that the practice in German elections is that a candidate can speak only of themselves and their plans and not speak ill of others..
  • This practice also extends to the store clerks who only show you the merchandise and do not try to flatter you and encourage you to purchase the item.
  • Recent German visitors, upon seeing so many graves at Arlington Cemetery, spoke highly and respectfully of the willingness of Americans to give their lives for the freedom of others around the world.
  • These same visitors at Arlington, surrounded by the hundreds of eighth-graders also present in the cemetery, felt that American teenagers were so much more respectful than was their experience with teenagers at home.
Once again I am indebted to the more than 2000 who let me reminisce and respond to their thoughtful questions.  I'd hoped to leave the questions about WWII in next week's blog, but a fascinating response I received causes me to make one more (rather detailed) response.  I hope you will check me out.