“Can’t Lead From A Rear View Mirror”

We’re prone to nostalgia. Drifting back to a moment-in-time, or events in yesteryear that brought a level of comfort, happiness, or reverie, as we strolled down “memory lane.” The degree varies from generation to generation, and the value attached to those events. Memories are quite selective, and, at times, misleading if one isn’t cautious while drawing conclusions.

Some generations frequently reflect backward to a time that stands in stark contrast to the present day. For good reason. The biggest problems for educators in the 1950’s were truancy and students sticking gum under their desk. President Truman paid his travel expenses out of his own pocket-not ours. A real doctor visited our home when we were ailing.

Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Sergeant Preston, and The Lone Ranger, blazed the trail and championed the values of the day-honesty, courage, fidelity, selflessness. A clear sense of right and wrong every Saturday at the matinee, and on TV. Red Skelton, I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners, tickled our funny bone with decency. Elvis Presley exasperated our parents. Lawrence Welk mesmerized generations. Dr. Jonas Salk, in 1955, unselfishly gave us the polio vaccine, to combat the most frightening and dreaded health problem in the US of the post-war era. When he was asked who owned the patent, he replied, “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”

By contemporary metrics, small screen classics like Father Knows Best, and Leave It To Beaver, have been characterized as “corny,” “square,” and wholly unrealistic, even for the time. There were divorces, alcoholics, perverts, thieves and liars. However, those transgressions were not the standard. TV network executives promoted an “ideal” to aspire to, therefore, when the father and mother, as the central figures in “solving the family problems” reached a conclusion, only a small slice of the public disagreed. Thank God for re-runs.

Pornography was available then. Those with concupiscent cravings were forced to frequent “back alley” stores. Today it’s reached pandemic proportions on the internet under the guise of free speech. Recently sixth graders from a school district in Colorado were discovered exchanging nude photos like baseball cards. The “haven of their chat room” is now their “back alley.” Guardians of their souls are distracted with making a living-and living in denial.

Teachers were in charge in school then, and fear of the dreaded, oft-used paddle that hung prominently on the principals wall, served both as a deterrent and reminder of what would befall violators of school and parental codes. The recalcitrant’s defiance was short lived, and the subsequent note home usually garnered another “reminder” for the student. We were surrounded back then. A neighborhood wall of consensus was our hedge against skirting family values.

A “cougar” was a large feline we saw at the zoo, not the star of her own “reality show.” An alternative lifestyle was to remain single. “Roe vs. Wade” was a choice one made while canoeing. No one bribed or “chased” us out of the house. Parents had to coax us to get us to come home. “Coming out of the closet,” meant we’d finished dressing. We toted guns to school for show-and-tell. Little boys dreamed about Lionel trains, Ted Williams, and a new bike. Little girls fancied a musical stroller and Strung Ginny Doll to place on her Christmas list.

A “Golden Era?” In some ways. Idyllic? Rarely. Perfect? “No!” Where’ve those days gone? All of the aforementioned notables and heroes share a commonality-they’re dead. With rare exceptions, most have passed. We need a new cadre of “heroes.” Where will they come from? Today, i-Phones connect us worldwide, for good or ill. Facebook, both a bane and a blessing, is a social network that touches more than a billion souls on this planet. Banking in the palm of our hand. Caught ‘twixt technology and our nature, we’ve harnessed the atom and solar power, but our bent for the salacious and malevolence appears unbridled.

Evangelicals boast there’s more mediums to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ globally, Who redeems and transforms lives, granting us a new start. Unlike the secularist, we understand the consequences of our individual and corporate depravity. It’s not corruption by erring institutions. It’s redemption that the soul has an appetency for, though we repine against it, unchecked by our own inclination for self-serving and tolerating corruption. Cupidity reigns. Proclivity for the temporal still vexes the eternal.

No resting on “laurels of the past.” Passivity’s indifference and complacency in masquerade. The desire for a kinder, gentler time has been eclipsed by the reality of the day. It’ll require more than a “knee jerk” reaction or pandering to generations that often perplex us. Engaging this “millennial generation,” though daunting, is essential. No going back.

Recent generations may be ready to face the reality of the “it’s all about me” root they’ve swallowed that left a bitter taste, facing the seeming impregnable issues of our time has forged a vacuum in their lives, that may render them more receptive to embracing a set of values, that heretofore, were unpalatable for contemplation.

Expanding global jihad by Isis Muslim Terrorist, vowing to hasten our demise, posing a grave, existential threat, from the former, “JV Team,” as characterized by “Muslim embracing,” invidious, President Obama, who described it all as a “set back,” on his shameless, boorish road show in Turkey and Manila. Antiquating Koran 8:12’s dangerously duplicitous. The G20 rapscallions played haute couture in Europe, while the Middle East caldron boiled-over. Before a watching world, Russia struts strongly. The U.S. relies on frippery.

Returning to time-tested, immutable principles is our greatest legacy to a generation we’ll never see. Their embrace may be tepid. Like it or not, these are the “good ole days.” In pursuit of life as it is, we’ll need the rear view mirror from time to time. However, going forward’s about engaging diligent hearts, minds and eyes on the menacing road ahead. It’s not for the faint-at-heart. What do you think?

Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email’s roderickstj@yahoo.com

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