There Are Times…

I’ve always had what I regard as a fairly young outlook on life and in some ways I think (I hope) that’s true and will remain so. Nevertheless, there are times when I think I must simply be getting old.

Maybe it’s mainly the death of Ted Kennedy that has brought it home to me at the moment for it’s usually as a result of world, or at least national, events that I feel this way. Lately, though, I have to admit that I have a feeling of more general malaise about the world we live in, or more precisely, about people, than I once did.

When I was truly young (as distinct from just thinking I am), there were no PCs and you got your information from your daily newspaper, or the radio and some of it from TV. The difference was that, although disasters, wars and all the rest occurred, they were the exception, whereas nowadays such mayhem seems to be accepted as the norm. Additionally, newspapers (apart from the odd one or two that most people regarded as little more than comics) could be relied upon, as could radio and TV news – they were respected and prided themselves on the thorough quality of their investigative journalism and the accuracy of what they reported. Of course, there was naturally national bias, but it wasn’t a slur to call someone a patriot then either.

People cared more too, I’m sure. If you told his parents (who you probably knew personally) that little Johnny was being a little sh*t, they’d apologise to you, clip him round the ear and make him say sorry to you (or whoever) as well. Doctors also took a pride in the respect that people had for them. They would turn out at any time of any day or night to visit a sick patient, but then they didn’t have thousand upon thousands of people on ever increasing lists that they had to service for less and less money. Perhaps more importantly, they didn’t spend half their time (or more) filling in government forms in quadruplicate for the benefit of a pen pusher in some quango and half a dozen NGOs (naturally, since they didn’t exist, none of us was paying for those pointless exercises either).

I’ve loved PCs ever since they were invented and I got very involved in quite a lot of software development at one point. I love the Internet, but does my increasing sense of foreboding for the future of humanity have any substance, or is it just that we hear about these things more easily than we once did? Are we suffering from some sort of data overload, or are people really nastier, greedier, less caring and above all often simply less decent than they were fifty years ago?

Maybe we just never heard about it in the past, but a rotten politician, policeman, lawyer, banker, financier, schoolteacher, doctor, or other type of professional worker was an exception and a talking point for weeks if not months. Now it seems that the huge plethora of news organisations we have today struggle to keep up with all the shenanigans going on in almost every field of public life and service.

Ho, hum … I think perhaps I am just growing old. In a way, I almost hope so, because if that’s not the reason, then sometimes I really do fear for humanity. Ted Kennedy, you weren’t perfect, none of us is, but you were more decent than many men today and a statesman to boot. I think you might just be well out of this sh*t! The world we and our generation knew and sometimes loved has probably had its day and is now just as dead as you … RIP.

4 Responses to “There Are Times…”

  1. It’s all (always) a matter of perspective, isn’t it?

    When we were young, the world was a gentler place – news was filtered, the ‘juicy chunks’ that I find so distasteful today, were not reported. The race to be first in reporting was run in a much slower world; there was time for fact checking.

    Were people different? I tend to think the major difference was caring about how they would be viewed by others. The ugly stuff was swept under the rug – at home, in communities and nationally.

    Does that make humanity less decent today? Only if one is judging on publicized words and deeds. We are, each of us, flawed to the very core. I even pat MYSELF on the back for keeping my ugly thoughts to myself (sometimes). Does it make me any less ugly? Nuh-uh.

    Technology is ever faster, ever more user friendly, ever more accessible. If we don’t give ourselves time to think about what we do and say BEFORE we do it or say it, we have the power to take down everything in our paths.

    Are we worse than before, or just packing a mightier punch?

    • The simple answer to your question(s) is that I just don’t know. Yes, there’s a huge amount more publicity about each contravention of the rules, but I do think that you’re definitely right about one thing in particular – they all care far less about what others think of them. That certainly means that they bother to hide their bad side less carefully, but it also means that there is no longer any real pride (for most people) in having and being worthy of the respect of the people. That leads to them seeing much less value in bothering to behave decently.

      In fact, whilst I agree entirely that none of us is perfect, or even comes close to it, I sometimes feel that real virtue is pretty much dead. I don’t mean by that the crappy subjective religious variety, but the genuine type of virtue that has its source in a considered sense of decency devoid of partisan judgement. Some things simply don’t seem decent to me in a particular place or circumstance, but fewer and fewer people seem able to see that.

      • You’re absolutely right! REAL virtue is considered old-fashioned and old-fashioned is frowned upon by most people today.”Decency” – that’s what’s lacking. Nail on the head, Adam!

        When I read things like this (with my morning coffee), it focuses me on being a kinder, gentler person for the day, or the morning, or at least an hour. (I know my limitations.)

        BTW, thank you for the kind words about my orange afro Air Force photo! It was 32 years ago this month. I’m a white girl with straighter brown locks (shot with gray) now. 🙂

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