Letter: All in 80 years
I was born in the mid-1930s and have experienced great change, both firsthand and observed. For my first 60 years of recollection, change was fast by historical norms, but for the past 20 it has been “on a tear.”
Starting as a youngster, I remember:
- Hardships in the Great Depression in the very low birthrate decade.
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt winning a third and fourth term — noting I was the only kid in my classes whose parents voted Republican.
- Democratic FDR frustrated with a protectionist Congress in not helping Europe, until history intervened.
- Where I was at the start and finish of World War II — noting rationing and no chocolate during that war.
- The election prediction gone bad with the pre-printing of a Chicago Daily Tribune headline showing “Dewey Defeats Truman” in 1948.
- Living in the city in a house heated by coal and using a block of ice fridge.
- The start of wars fought without a WWII-type conclusion or victory —Korea and Vietnam.
- I knew children, before vaccinations, who lost limb function from polio and children who lost hearing from measles.
- Being required to register at age 18 and being drafted into the Army.
- Working with IBM punched cards — the data storage medium of the time.
- Atomic bombs in many countries and the atomic energy promise of super-cheap electricity that never happened.
- Plastics for on-time or more permanent uses introduced into just about everything.
- Airplanes making trains and cross-ocean passenger ships obsolete and helping the dispersion of families geographically.
- Global economy beginnings, with United States manufacturing going to China.
- The Sept. 11 attacks and Americans starting to understand the Middle East.
- DNA technology for ancestry, identification and genetic health care.
- Microprocessor technology enabling the digital everywhere.
- Plastic waste fouling our lakes, rivers, oceans.
- Guns — from long barrel guns for hunting to handguns and assault weapons.
- The effects of climate change and how it will impact everything.
- Worldwide migrations and refugees now at our borders.
- Social media instantly informs, misinforms and influences millions.
- One full-time job too frequently becoming not enough to raise children.
- Increased income wealth inequality.
- Health care — bankruptcies, untreated conditions, it becoming the biggest budget item for individuals
- Parents withholding their children from vaccinations.
- Democracy changing or eroding worldwide.
- Antibiotics becoming ineffective, with predictions that it will impact our lifespans.
- Population increase predictions in the billions, largely in the wrong places.
What trends am I missing? With the current rapid rate of change, can anyone predict what life will be like for children born today as they go into adulthood? For the unfortunate trends that we can and want to do something about, there is hope. Some of our younger politicians are starting to expand their scope of interests and at a recent gathering, nearly 200 CEOs stated that corporate responsibility should expand beyond shareholder value to five areas including the community — hopefully that includes the environment.