Bruce

Am I just old or have our values really changed as much as I think they have?

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Back in the stone ages when Uwe and I were kids, our parents were busy making a living and left us to find a way to occupy ourselves. We were not entertained by parents or teachers. No, we made our own games and entertainment. For sure, some of these led to unexpected consequences because we did things that were .. well let's just say they were not the "most astute and proper" activities one should pursue. But fun? You bet.

We also were not dependent on mom and dad to take us every where we needed to go. We had to find our own way. Bicycles and feet were often involved.

Our 'rents did not worry about us because everyone knew who we were and to whom we belonged. If we got out of line, our teachers and neighbors had full authority and power to clock us one upside the head to calibrate our eyeballs and move us back on the right path. As kids, we didn't mind this - in fact it was expected.

When we played sports, there were winners and losers. We did not all get trophies for "participating". If we played poorly, we lost. If we played well, we won. Winners were celebrated and losers sloughed off to home dreaming of the next game when maybe we could muster a good showing and actually win.

We were taught that the measure of what you get from participating in life is in direct proportion to what you put into life. Sure, some have luck and things fall their way but by in large, those who have success do so because of the effort they put into their endeavors.

Today, when I look at the attitudes of society, I see a dramatic shift towards being entitled. That is, more seem to feel that they should receive what they perceive they are owed without ever putting in effort to obtain that which they desire. Nearly 50% of the population of the US is now on the government payroll in one form or another. That number continues to grow. How can this be maintained? Who will do the work? Who will pay for all these services?

I worry, that in a few years, I will be one of those on the government payroll. I will retire from working my 10 hour days and move to a life of leisure. Will I have enough income from my investments for Linda and I to live the balance of our lives? Or will I, like most retirees, need assistance - assistance I have paid for all of my working years but am loath to say I am entitled to have. You see, for me, I was raised that I was the one who provided for my family and for me. I am not to be a burden to others. How then can I accept this idea that I am entitled to anything?

I remember my dad as he aged railing against the younger generations and how they were so damn lazy! He was, of course, referring to me and my brother at the time - he considered both of us to be lazy - slackers. I am wondering, as we age, do we find fault with younger generations because we simply cannot accept change and we want things to stay as they once were? Is that why I find the changes in attitude objectionable - 'cause I am just old and not willing to change more? Or are things today really worse then they were when I was a kid?

What are our values today? Are they different then they were in the 60's and 70's when I was growing up? To be fair, I don't think they are. Basic values seem to remain constant. As a parent, we want the best for our kids - we want them to be happy, healthy, to have a means to live a reasonably comfortable life. Our families are important to us. We want work that is meaningful and shows that we add value. We want the freedom to enjoy life, to share in the blessings of the bounty we achieve. We want to live long and at the end of our time, we hope that we can look back and say, "I did that!" We hope to be able to say we did more good than we did bad.

So, basic values are basic to life - right? Why then the sense that life today is worse than it was when I was a kid? As I thought this through, I bet my parents perspective of the times I romanticize, are very different. My dad was working three jobs to provide for the family. Mom was home busy taking care of the four rug rats - a 16 hour a day job - 7 days a week. Bet mom and dad didn't think life in the 60's and 70's was all that!

My memories of my childhood are some of my most precious memories. Those times were great times. I think the burden of living and providing tends to make the present seem difficult and the past to seem fantastic. I think that as I near the end of my career, that I am spending more time looking back, romanticizing the past beyond the reality of the actual occurrences. It is amusing how one's mind will enhance memories.

No, things are not worse. Things have changed. And if I am not yet old - as Olga tells me I am not - then I am getting old! I have changed. I'd like to think I am more wise than I was. Wisdom is one of those qualities that is discerned by others. Certainly, I hope I do not make the same mistakes I have made in the past. Hopefully, I am making new mistakes and am still growing into the best I can be and might be. And maybe, I am still a youngster at heart - playing those games with friends, enjoying the freedom to be!

- Bruce
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