With all the hubbub of the holiday season, it was (almost) easy for me to forget that I turned the big 4-0 on the 21st. The more I reflect on it, the more I’m amazed at the number of things that have changed and the advances that have been made in my lifetime. There’s been a lot made of “The Greatest Generation” of baby-boomers and all the advances made in their collective lifetimes. But it would seem that my “Generation X’ers” have kicked that into hyperdrive.
A few examples:
– I was just a few months old when Neil Armstrong muttered those famous words “One small step for man…” since then we’ve seen hundreds of space shuttles launch and land safely…and watched in horror as God took the brave astronauts from us on Challenger and Columbia.
– We watched as the music industry went from 45s and LP’s to 8-tracks, cassettes, cd’s, and ultimately digital in the form of portable mp3’s, Ipods and phones that play music.
– Rotary dial phones to push button, to big clunky purse-sized cell phones to phones in your pocket.
– GPS…knowing where you are to within a few meters at all times. Just when I got good at folding maps too.
– Building-sized computers to desktops to laptops to hand-helds to palms. And everything that came along with it. Mankind has never been so connected or informed at any time in history…and yet we can still be so lonely as we substitute online relationships for virtual “friends”. Give me a good conversation with friends over a beer any day.
– Better living through chemistry…medical and pharmaceutical advances in the last 20 years alone makes one wonder just how long we will live.
– Worse living through chemistry…read some junk-food labels some time and wonder how this stuff doesn’t kill you.
– The Civil Rights Movement of the 60s was winding down as I was born. Now we have our first Black president.
And yet for all of our advances, human-kind still reverts far too often to some of it’s more basic instincts. We’ve gotten very good at finding new and innovative ways of killing each other. Terrorists, the War on Terror, suicide bombings, human rights violations, genocide and the list goes on.
Once, when I was very young, I read a Beatle Bailey comic strip where Sarge told Beetle that, in the entire course of human history, there’s been less than 200 years of peace so the military always has to be prepared. Beetle responded by asking a simple question. Something to the effect of “if that’s the case, shouldn’t we be preparing for peace?” Amazing the things that stick with you as you get older, isn’t it?
Jimmy…take me away.