For the past 20-years I’ve had the pleasure of welcoming KEZW listeners to a new day each morning, and in the beginning it was just that, a pleasure. But lately it’s become a bit more of a challenge for everyone. Let’s face it, the news hasn’t been a lot of fun to listen to lately. For anyone 10 or younger America has always been at war. We’ve been living with a recession that has caused many of our family and friends to lose jobs, or give up careers they’d worked a lifetime towards. And yesterday came the news that 1 in 6 Americans is living in poverty. Hard to wake up with a smile when that’s the world you wake up to. Well, I have an idea how we might be able to dust ourselves off and get a bounce back in our step. We’ve waited quite a while for someone else to right the ship so maybe we should try to tackle this ourselves. Seems to me there’s a group among us who have already made this journey and we need to sit down and listen to how they got through it, and grew prosperous from it.
When I started at KEZW in 1991 I was spellbound by the stories of my grandparents, and the WWII generation that made up most of the listening audience of AM 1430. The first 10-years I was host of this show America was living in pretty tall cotton and we couldn’t imagine a world where people chose between dinner or a new pair of shoes. How could anyone possibly have lived without a three-car garage? Walk to school…are you kidding me? And wear the clothes my brother wore the year before? Right! But every older person I had on the air told the same stories which meant they were true, or there was one heck of an old person conspiracy going on! We heard our parents and grandparents talk about growing their own vegetables and stretching out meals by adding water. Kids played games in back-yards, rode bikes for hours and read stories of the far-away places kids today see on TV, and their laptops. Children of the 40’s slipped notes to each other in school, and their fathers wrote letters from the battlefield. Today’s kids text, and soldiers Skype or call on cell phones.
I’m not suggesting we give up all the new inventions that have shaped our lives and made them largely more enjoyable. I am saying until lately it’s been easier for us then it was for our grandparents. Baby boomers were beneficiaries of the great American post-war spirit of the late 40’s and 50’s. We loved the world we were born into and helped ourselves freely to the things our parents created for us. And we passed that love of things along to our children and wanted nothing more than for them to have the best we could afford, and many times even more than we could afford. But we forgot one thing. We never shared the lessons that were supposed to go with the gifts. We ignored the words of our elders who enjoyed the TV’s, microwaves and other new gadgets of their day, but didn’t buy them until they had the money in the bank. They didn’t wait at the store beginning at midnight to be the first to buy anything, unless it was a war bond. Many WWII vets tell of getting the first pair of new shoes they ever owned when they enlisted. When I was young we had Christmas Clubs at the bank and saved all year to buy one gift for Mom and Dad and siblings. And we were so proud of that.
If we want to fix the problems of today I think we need to have a long talk with the people who survived the Great Depression and WWII while they’re still here to share the lessons they learned. In fact, I think we need to create a Department of Life Lessons. Staff it with people who put on potluck suppers at church to raise money for the community. We’ll need someone who remembers baking pies for the neighborhood, or sharing leftovers when you had them. Heck, we’ll need to start by actually meeting our neighbors. We’ve got to add the guy who can make an overnight sleepover in the backyard seem like a trip to a foreign land and throw in a storyteller who can take us anywhere…with his words. And we’ll need people to remind us to put money away for a rainy day. And we need to hear that when one of us hurts it only gets better when all of us helps. There’s plenty of help all around us…just waiting to be asked. The Department of Life Lessons. Ready to start
Just spent the better part of an hour reading the past blogs. I learned that one of the most exciting revelations an author can have is to find out that "they are read." In a blog, I assume that it is nice to receive comments. I am 71, and haven't done much blogging, but thought I would send you a comment.
It strikes me that there are so few comments to your posts. I think that you should feel good about that, also. They read more like a good book! The best way to comment on them is to think about them, see what it means to me, and hand the book to someone else. Have a Happy New Year! Hope it is a good one!