Saturday, May 20, 2017

The beauty of each day

I know, I know, it sounds rather Pollyannaish, or perhaps it's the "affliction" of old age, but hardly a day goes by that I don't see acts of love, charity or beautiful acts of kindness from strangers on the street. This came to me particularly last Wednesday as I was coming home from my volunteer job at the White House Visitors Center. My aching back was living up to its name in the 92° heat, and the "walk" sign said I had to wait 62 seconds before crossing the street. I could see that the other side of the street was in the blistering sun while I was in the shadow of a building. Consequently I leaned against a light post with my left arm while holding my cane in my right. I must've looked like Charlie Chaplin in the movie "City Lights". In a matter of seconds a young woman came to me to offer me a drink of water.

And it wasn't too long ago that I was riding the escalator, bent down and rested my arm on the rubber moving banister. How thoughtful of someone to ask if I were okay and offered to help me.  And each day people smile and say "hello".

So much of our lives are filled with anxiety with much of it induced by the national political scene and traumatic events around the world constantly on display. Yet with time to look around and not be fixated on a smart phone, I am impressed each day with the friendliness and greetings I receive from people as I walked down the street.

Louis Armstrong said it quite succinctly:

                                           "What A Wonderful World"

I see trees of green,
red roses too.
I see them bloom,
for me and you.
And I think to myself,
what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue,
And clouds of white.
The bright blessed day,
The dark sacred night.
And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow,
So pretty in the sky.
Are also on the faces,
Of people going by,
I see friends shaking hands.
Saying, "How do you do?"
They're really saying,
"I love you".

I hear babies cry,
I watch them grow,
They'll learn much more,
Than I'll ever know.
And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world.

Yes, I think to myself,
What a wonderful world.

Oh yeah.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

What do you consider to be the invention that has most changed American lifestyle in your 90 years?

"What do you consider to be the invention that has most changed American lifestyle in your 90 years?"

I vacillated a great deal as I answered this question many many times on Reddit's AMA. At first I felt it was the automobile which provided unimagined mobility and then, coupled with the interstate highway, made suburbs possible. Then it was the rapid development of aircraft which truly made our world the "One World" as predicted in Republican presidential candidate Wendell Wilkie in his book of 1936. And optimist that I am, I at one time thought it was the United Nations to assure lasting peace.  Of course television completely revolutionized our entertainment and along with yer-round team sports almost completely changed family structure. Further on the social scale,  I've personally felt that American family life was dramatically changed after World War II.  Before that time – even in the lower middle-class families like mine  – only (generally) fathers worked and mothers stayed at home.  

Now, after reading a pre-publication copy of Franklin Foer's "World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech," there is no question in my mind that the most dramatic change and one that is still growing is the Computer/Internet.  (Full disclosure – Frank is my partner Linda Greenfelder's son-in-law.)  I'd already begun to be influenced by young people to the marvels of the computer age. How convenient to be able to type letters by talking on my Dragon dictation device and send emails.  My suspicions of the magnitude of change wrought by computers/Internet increased with the election, Now Frank's book opened my eyes to the dangers that have accompanied this truly earthshaking, human behavior changing phenomenon.

Some of you may recall my last/last rant when I set aside ranting to work on a major thought trend of mine. It's listed below. And now Frank's book gives me another tangent to consider.

"But as I discontinue weekly rantings, I'll give my attention to preparing a major write-up on a topic of lifetime concern to me personally. It relates somewhat to the insightful book of Robert Putnam, "Bowling Alone". In it he calls attention to the fact that a great many of the social organizations that have unified our country have now been lost. And for me personally this includes the continuing decline of the effectiveness of the three institutions that have had the greatest impact on my life: the family, the public school and churches. Certainly the family and schools have received a great deal of attention. Yet while religion has increasingly played a predominant role in worldwide affairs, a major development in America has been a continuing decline in church attendance – particularly by young people. Indeed I have seen it in my own family and understand fully the rationale for this phenomenon. I hope that my personal observations will be of value to others in considering this topic: i believe that religion has played a major role in creating the problems of humankind, but i believe that it can provide a way to solve the problems.  I hope to enlarge on this by showing how my religious/philosophical concepts have changed in my 91 years so that religion can be seen in a new light as a place for adding meaning and purpose to ones life and increasing the opportunity for world peace.