Time Compression

 

 

In a few days, it will be the one-hundredth anniversary of 1920. The first world war was over and the next twenty years away. I was a born thirty-six years after 1920 and eleven years after the close of the Second World War. I am a boomer with all that entails. I grew up in all white boomer suburbs in a level of prosperity unimagined today. Being a boomer meant crowds of kids of all ages and it wasn’t unusual to hear, “Hey kid! You wanna play football? Or “You wanna pitch?”  but it also meant you were a known quantity. Adults blocks away knew your parents and would not hesitate to call them if they saw you doing something inappropriate.

Time is a bandit, twelve years after my birth was Woodstock and the moon landings. The coming year will be nineteenth anniversary of 9-11, and the shooting continues. We could crush Germany and Japan in five years but somehow can’t get a handle Afghanistan, but Government bean counters have begun to mumble, maybe it was a mistake. Maybe? Maybe Vietnam was a mistake and we can say that…now. It was a mistake then, but it was very contentious to say so. A local minister offered support for the war and was heckled from his pulpit with, “Send your boy then!” I experienced the assassinations of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. I watched Jack Ruby executed in a Dallas police garage. How would America deal with that tragedy today?

Fifty years ago, the cities were on fire with race riots but then progress was made, but today in the era of Trump, it makes me wonder. Martin Luther King had advocated for civil rights for a decade but after coming out against the Vietnam War was dead in a few months. Doctor Kings focus was changing from civil rights to poor people’s rights. Robert Kennedy toured Mississippi and shamed America into addressing the systemic racism and poverty. How the times have changed, can America be shamed anymore? Today our city streets are filled with the homeless the mentally ill and the destitute. TV commercials tear at out heart strings over shivering dogs and cats but there are no commercials to help the homeless only cops and laws.

I remember when there were no homeless begging on the street. In 1973, I got my first real non-paper route job working at a gas station. I was paid $3.00 per hour plus commission working thirty hours a week I could easily bring home $100. My boss had graduated from high school. He was working forty plus hours and bringing home not quite $200 per week. His rent was $140 his car payment was $110 on a year-old Chevy Nova he had hopped up with a high-rise intake and four-barrel carburetor. What the hell, gas was only .46 cents per gallon. He was going to college at night costing him fifty dollars per semester hour. A nineteen-year-old sift manager at a gas station living independently and attending college.

My sister three years my senior, attended college and went on to law school. My Aunt Dorothy was so proud she told her friends, “My Niece is going to be a legal secretary!” To her a generation removed, she could not handle the idea of a female attorney or a female doctor or a truck driver. Forty years ago, but it seems like a hundred. Who questions women’s abilities today?

Apollo 11 sat on the pad in July of 1969 as a news anchor announced three billon people were watching. Today seven and a half billion souls are sitting on this mudball, and I’ve hardly met any of them. Time compression watch this number double in another fifty years.  If we cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 50% in thirty years and the population doubles in fifty, what’s to be accomplished?

Progress made and progress lost but I think my biggest concern is the rise of ignorance. I remember George Corley Wallace and Lester Maddox well. They were national opinion makers and their followers were cretins and rednecks and everyone new it to be so. When Wallace stood in the door of the University of Alabama mainstream opinion thought Wallace to be an ignorant asshole standing in the way of progress.  But today, put a redneck, racist Nazi in a three-piece suit knock the chewing tobacco out of his mouth and put him on Fox and suddenly he’s a pundit with opinions that are treated as a valid point of view.

If you squint, you can just see the outlines of Big Brother. The same as always, fifty years and not a single good idea to help America. Ronald Reagan advocated tax cuts. Bush advocated tax cuts, Obama advocated tax cuts and Trump got his tax cuts and things only seem to get worse. The politics of ignorance, the smell of the crowd and the roar of the grease paint. The politics of ignorance have a foot hold, the Fox News of today is not the Fox News of ten years ago and will not be the Fox News of today in ten years.

A Racist white supremacist as President of the United States and his circle jerk of sycophants. A clown show in orange. World leaders are laughing at the President of the United States. The President of the United States says a third world tin pot dictator is sending him love letters. A President of the United States who doesn’t know when he’s being punked by a third world tin pot dictator. During the Cuban missile French President Charles DE Gaulle was offered an envelope with U2 photos of the missile sites. He refused the envelope saying, “The word of the President is good enough for me.” Can you imagine that today? Time compression.

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