Sometimes our only message is we have no message.
October 10, 2014
PIN-POINTING WHEN COMPLEXITIES took root in our country is tough duty. It depends greatly on one’s age, locale, circumstance, ad infinitum. Feel free to make your own list.
New technology unfurls with abandon–consequences to be determined later–or perhaps never.
Shucks, one wrinkle was added by—of all things—ice.
What a day it must have been when crushed ice was first delivered to the drugstore soda fountain. Until then, most folks bought ice in blocks, usually periodically. A handy ice pick made chunks possible. Crushed ice was unheard of at the time.
It was the rage. People stood in line to grab stools and order refreshing drinks enhanced by mounds of crushed ice. One guy, patient to the utmost, finally was seated.
He courteously ordered one of those new-fangled Cherry Cokes, “ if they’ve got some ice that ain’t busy!”
If ice is to blame, global warming may take care of that. Along the way, folks pointed fingers at TV, the Internet, phones that do everything but change diapers, heightened creature comforts that dictate two incomes (and sometimes more), discipline breakdown, growing incivility, distrust…here again, the ad infinitum thing fits.
Throw in surveillance…people in general knowing too much about too many topics, and soon there are masses of folks facing loss of confidence to clear an ever-heightening bar of expectations. Before we know it, worry morphs into outright fear.
Someone threw it out years ago: “We can be around the world in hours, and both see and hear around the world in seconds, but we have to go/hear/see with the same nervous system Moses had when he led the children of Israel from the land of bondage.”
Pendulums have never swung wider. Highs are higher; valleys have never been lower.
Parents, in many cases, are afraid they’ll be charged with abuse if they unsheathe the rod that has been mostly spared for a couple of decades or more.
No one wants to face abuse charges—and any abuse of children is unacceptable, and not to be confused with discipline.
Time was when the mere threat of discipline worked wonders. A paddle hanging in the principal’s office at school was an ever-present reminder of what COULD happen. Dad’s razor strap at home was mentioned a few times, but never used except for sharpening his razor.
My friends were sent out to the orchard to pluck their own switches from trees, but they weren’t branches or limbs, and I don’t know of any incident growing up that brought blood. ‘Course what we knew was mostly what we saw, heard from folks at the next farm or picked up while listening in on telephone party lines.
Indeed, they were Saturday Evening Post, Norman Rockwell and matinee movie kind of days. Life was simpler.
There are more reasons to worry now. Wars and rumors of wars. Hunger. Disease. Technology, in some cases, wears a badge. Did we run the red light? Well, we’ll know in a few days, because—like The Shadow in radio days—the camera knows.
Television blares, armed with the clout of advertising armies touting national firms. They dictate much, well beyond professional and collegiate sports.
One vignette speaks volumes. Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder, perhaps as classy, ethical and capable as any coach in history, was informed the other day that the purple windbreakers he wears on the sideline must be chosen with more care. Turns out that some are years old–purple garments bearing names and logos of bowl game sponsors in which his Wildcats played. Whoa! Now some of the bowls have different sponsors.
A TV boss spotted the infraction, informing the NCAA that threw the flag on K-State. It landed at Snyder’s feet.
Snyder made nary a comment—he’s awfully good at measuring his words when he has something to say—but now is wearing plain, white windbreakers. His only message is that he has no message.
What to do? For many of us, the most comfort is taken in the belief that the same God who has intervened in the affairs of man throughout history is still in charge.
Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 817-447-3872.
Please click the book cover to read more about the humorous and inspirational stories of Don Newbury in his book, When the Porch Light’s On.