The decade of the 1950s was a special time for our country. We were finally at peace with the world again — having grown weary from fighting the tenacious Japanese in the Pacific Ocean and the steely Germans throughout Europe during World War II.
I grew up in the Butchertown district in the east end of Louisville, Kentucky in the 1950s, near the start of the Baby-Boom generation. It was named Butchertown because that was the location of the Fischer and Armour meat-packing companies, which were located next to the Stock Yards.
In those days, America was busy converting its factories from manufacturing wartime products and machinery into producing materials useful in all sorts of industries —steel for buildings and improving the nation’s infrastructure, instead of tanks and battleships.
Plastics became the new overnight sensation when Earl Silas Tupper, the creator of Tupperware plastic storage containers, enlisted a network of housewives to market his products, which helped them make extra money for their families.
Life was easy for kids growing up back then. There was tremendous strength and emphasis on the family structure. There were ideals and principles that could not be compromised, things like honesty, integrity, and humility, not to mention compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves.
In today’s world? Not so much!
It is debatable as to when the shift came about in our value system. Was it the fallout from the Beat movement, the Beatniks? Or was it later, when the first Hippies changed us to a “Make love, not war” mindset?
Whenever it happened, some of our old-fashioned values have been left behind in the dust of progress. Our world presses ever-forward with sudden and dramatic changes to the ways we communicate and interact with each other.
The constancy of difficult issues is crippling!
When I think back to the way I was raised and the values I grew up with, I realize that I have experienced vast growth in my interpretation of what is and what isn’t acceptable in today’s world.
I look back wistfully at the “good old days,” while at the same time acknowledging that the values I yearn to see in today’s world from those “old world” ways aren’t easily achieved in practical application today.
Times are very different now in how we interpret and question new knowledge in many areas of our lives, from industrial applications to medical advances, to scientific realities.
What we haven’t been able to achieve throughout many decades of trial and error is the elimination of our problems. Poverty, cancer, abortion, Black Lives Matter, discrimination of the sexes, wars, insurrections, global warming, homelessness, gun controls, plastic waste products, nuclear waste, fossil fuel exhaustion, and educational needs — none of these are new problems. They have existed for decades and still exist today.
These constant, ever-present problems must have solutions that apparently aren’t palatable enough to enact for those of us who can affect change. Our ‘leaders’ have no taste for upsetting the status quo.
Then again, maybe we, as voters, don’t demand more of our Senate and Congressional representatives or we don’t demand enough in the first place. Consequently, they give us inconsequential solutions that are doomed to fail — either by lack of popularity or by lack of funding.
These are very challenging times we are living through today. Even if we could travel back to the 50s and 60s, back before Camelot got shattered by the explosion from a rifle, back before we lost the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King, there’s no guarantee that we’d be able to bring those values back to our present day.
What a shame!
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