I used to have some weird thoughts as a teenager. No, actually weird FOR a teenager. One of those thoughts was that if parents raised their child without ever having candy, would the kid actually know they were missing something. Of course, the parents would have to prevent the kid from having knowledge of candy, see other kids have candy, etc. for the experiment to work. See I said it was weird. But once the kid learns about candy and tastes candy, will they be happy with that new knowledge?
Something said during the sermon at our church last week made me think of this. The pastor said than when he was growing up in rural Mississippi they didn’t know they were poor and neither did most of the people in their town. I thought my childhood was pretty much the same way. Though he and I are a generation apart and the circumstances were different, I grew up poor (or lower middle) most of my life and never realized it. Some of that might be from a child’s point of view, and in some ways that’s just fine. It’s the ignorance of childhood that made me content with what I had.
They say progress is a good thing (so I guess that makes congress a bad thing?), but is that true in all cases?
In doing my genealogy research, I find that the farther you go back, the longer marriages lasted and the closer children stayed to their parents after they in turn married. People would live their long lives (it’s a myth that people died at 40 in the 1800s) in nearly the same area as they grew up. You read obituaries of people where they were lifelong residents of their county or even township.
Sadly however, this appears to be less likely the case if people grew up in larger cities or as time moved on.
Perhaps it’s less ignorance and more innocence that protects us and keeps us content. Once you’re exposed to so-called “progress” something has to be sacrificed on its behalf. Don’t get me wrong, progress in and of itself is not a bad thing… But while some things touted as progress are good, some of them ultimately are bad and the price paid is too great.
Innocence was exposed and bombarded with things promised to make our lives better. If they only drove the right car, wore the right clothes, smelled the right way their lives would be perfect. Until the next car dealer, fashion designer, or cologne maker had a new product to sell. They would see in movies a better life, or more accurately what was defined as a better life by someone whose life of their own was not even perfect. People started to realize they were poor or at least not as rich as Mr. Jones next door. Their way of life was depicted as dull, mundane, or goodness “old fashioned”. So they want more and to get more they had to have more money… or borrow it and enslave themselves to debt (ask me how I know).
Suddenly their husband or wife, their kids took on a whole new perspective and marriages would be dissolved, kids abandoned as people started seeking to “better” themselves.
Now we have the mess we have now. Where most people are looking for more more more more more. (More-ons perhaps? 🙂 ).
I look back now on the places where I lived and think I would never live there now. But then we didn’t know. We didn’t feel unsafe. It’s just where you lived with other people just like you. So we were all on equal footing and played together and had a good time. At 12 we were all pretty much poor anyway.
So yeah, there is good progress for sure. Medicine for example is the one everyone points to. For the most part candy is a good thing. But a lot of progress hasn’t really progressed us at all and the price we pay is staggering.
My wife has told me on many occasions of how bright the stars are in Texas. How you cannot imagine how many stars you can see. Of course I’ve seen photos, but not in person. (The one time we were out there, it was a cloudy, rainy night so you couldn’t see anything. Bummer.)
The stars are everywhere however. Right now if I go out into my yard, I can see some of them, still too many to count, but nowhere near all the stars that are there to see. Why are they invisible? Because the lights from our man-made “progress” washes them from view. (Something to do with apparent magnitude vs. absolute magnitude if I recall my Astronomy class correctly — I slept through most of second semester)
In our quest for more and more we lose sight of (and no longer appreciate) all the God-given blessings that we do have.