This is the Worst of Times and the Best of Times – as Usual

Times are tough. Again. For some people they were never otherwise. Most of us here in the USA , will have to admit that things are usually pretty darn good. But with terrorism, drugs, bank and moral failures constantly in the daily news, these days are looking less than golden.

I’ve been listening to a lot of folks who seem to be losing their sense of hope for the future. There has even been talk of advising couples to reconsider having children; it might be unfair to bring people into a world that is so terrible. Many of them firmly believe that it’s just going to get worse, that the end is in plainly in sight.

But I’ve been hearing this kind of stuff for nearly 50 years. Two thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul seemed to be warning people in the same way. (I Cor 7: 25-28) Are things really any worse today?

Last Sunday, my wife pulled out one of her favorite childhood books to read aloud to her little niece and nephew. It’s called “The Enchanted Egg” by Peggy Burrows and it was published in 1956 as a Rand McNally Giant Book – a big picture book. It’s about a Faberge’ type egg that mysteriously ends up among all the farm animals one day and the adventures that ensue as they try to figure out what it is. At one point the Fuzzy Yellow Duck and Mrs. Robin carelessly allow the egg to roll down hill where it slams into the house of Dinky, the alarmist elf.

“BUMPETY BOOM BANG! The Enchanted Egg struck against the door of Dinkly’s little house!

“An earthquake!” yelled Dinky. He ran to open his door, but it would not budge!

An Atom Bomb!” howled Dinky. He ran to open his window. Then he scrambled onto the sill and peeked out.

Ahh. The Good Old Days; polio, the Red Menace, Atomic Bombs and fall out shelters. I remember regular air raid drills in elementary school and that was the 1950’s and early 60’s, considered by many people as the Golden Age of America. Mom, Dad, family suppers, apple pie, Sunday-go-to-meetin’, Leave it to Beaver, the Hardy Boys, Walt Disney, Syd Caesar….. all good stuff. And good memories, albeit somewhat selective (don’t forget the Bomb). Who wouldn’t want to return to those days?

Well, most black people, I would imagine. And maybe quite a few women. For myself, I rely upon a battery of medications that help me with hypertension, asthma and allergies so you can count me out. No matter how scary things may be for some of us today, for others the past holds quite a few bad memories. As for the rest of us, too young to have been there or too myopic to remember, it helps to keep in mind the old maxim; “This, too, shall pass.”

So don’t sell your time shares just yet. I seriously doubt if the end is truly in sight.


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  1. #1 by logiopsychoambrosiaivorytowerpath on October 22, 2008 - 7:28 pm

    I don’t usually wax this cynical, but here is my take on fallout shelters:

    The government knew full well that few would survive a nuclear weapon attack. So, government officials had shelters built–such as at the Greenbriar Resort in West, Virginia, Weather Mountain in Virginia, and that place along PA 16. The excuse for these would have been to preserve the continuity of government. As for us poor chickens . . .

    Since the government officials did not want to arise from their shelters to a bunch of burned out skeletons–they created the fallout shelter. I believe these were created as mass tombs. In other words, as said above, the government knew no civilians would survive, so where better to have them than in lead-lined, concrete or brick vaults, where their (our) bones could rot while the elite created their Brave New World.

  2. #2 by b4dguy on October 27, 2008 - 10:34 am

    Well, that’s a cheery outlook. Reminiscent of “Fight Club” and the airline emergency brochures.

    I think our childhood holds a certain mythic quality – for some of us that was the Fifties, for some it was the Sixties, even the Seventies.

    I remember it took FOREVER for a year to roll by – the anticipation of birthdays, Halloween, and Christmas – even the last couple days or weeks was endless.

    A famous poet once mused, “Life was so simple before I died…” the older and wiser we get the more we are exposed to the frailty and futility of life. I’m afraid I’ve spoiled my children on life because I’ve taught them that the American dream is crap – and most of the ‘things’ that Americans pursue are also crap.

    What’s left after all the crap is filtered out? Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

  3. #3 by Christian Beyer on October 27, 2008 - 12:44 pm

    Bruce – sorry, I missed this rant of yours (now I know what you were referring to in your email) You have just taken the cynical cake, and eaten it too. No wonder you don’t drink Kool-Aid.

    Bad – I can really relate to what you just said about spoiling your children on life. I’ve been thinking about this lately as I’ve taken it upon myself to study the history, culture and personal stories of the Marine Corps, in order that I might have a better understanding of what my son is experiencing at boot camp.

    This struck home yesterday as Bev and I were touring the Museum of the Marine Corps at Quantico. An amazing place, rivaling, and in many ways exceeding, the Smithsonian museums. Courage, honor, sacrifice, pride (the good kind)- these are things that rarely seem to have much bearing in my life.

    I envy him. And I realize that Ian is learning things now that my father taught me but that I never taught him.

  4. #4 by logiopsychoambrosiaivorytowerpath on October 27, 2008 - 7:18 pm

    What other explanation can be given for fallout shelters? Reassuring a public whose lives would be literally melted by even the smallest nuclear exchange?

    I’m tellin’ ya, these were easy to maintain mass graves.

  5. #5 by ric booth on October 30, 2008 - 12:19 pm

    I remember air-raid drills in elementary school back in the sixties. I don’t think we called them air-raid drills but I can’t remember… Any way, a different siren than the fire alarm and we did not run outside. Instead we put our heads down on our desks and covered our heads with our hands.

    We didn’t know about the plastic and duct tape window method way back then.

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