There are times in history that change the world. You remember exactly where you were when they happened, and the world was different after they happened.
Some that have gone on in my life so far:
When John F. Kennedy was killed, America lost its innocence.
When Martin Luther King was shot, we lost a dream.
We lost our sense of security when 9-11 swept away the feeling we have in North America of “being safe,” that those kinds of attacks “don’t happen here.”
That was 20 years ago this coming week. It started a war that left thousands of servicemen and women from all over the world dead, killed civilians by the thousands, and ended in chaos last week (Aug. 31).
But there are other milestones that I have thought about lately. Maybe it was because I celebrated my 60th birthday last week, and it made me think about what has gone on in those 60 years since my birth.
Man walked on the moon, a few rovers have landed and remain on Mars sending back pictures; space shuttles ventured into space (successfully and unsuccessfully), the International Space Station became a reality. Billionaires in space. Many events happened in the realm of space that changed and keep changing the world.
There are things, though, from my younger years, like television becoming something everyone could afford to own, the invention of the microprocessor, computers that used DOS cards and took up the entire basement of the school library.
Fluoride was something introduced to my grade school and we had to rinse with that unholy tasting stuff twice a year; peace, love, and the women’s movement went on through the ’60s and ’70s, the Vietnam war ended, Watergate happened; we went from having vinyl records to 8-track to cassette tapes and then something called an iPod in the blink of an eye; microwave ovens made cooking easier, and made working moms breathe a sigh of relief; computers we could afford at home, then the internet, cell phones, games and apps, and now refrigerators that will make your shopping list for you.
Princess Diana’s life, marriage, and death changed publicity, for better and for worse.
The Cold War, the fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of China, the destruction of the “Berlin Wall,’ are all political events that changed the world.
Now I’m living through a worldwide pandemic and the devastating effects of climate change.
It makes me wonder what milestones and legacies will my children and especially my grandchildren see and experience. They haven’t known a world without many of the things I mentioned above.
Thankfully, for my kids, the affordability factor kept personal computers from our home until they were in high school. So they grew up playing outside, camping, fishing, skiing and really enjoying a carefree childhood.
But I see my grand babes with cell phones and internet and games and such, that are always “on and connected” and I see stress in them that I never knew.
It’s a different world now. Even in Canada where it’s been a mostly polite and civil place, people have grown angry and ugly and disrespectful and increasingly violent.
It makes me shake my head and worry. I worry for all of us. If we can’t get through events in some semblance of “together” how are we going to tackle global issues and make changes? Not just pandemics, but poverty, starvation, political and climate refugees, the lack of clean water, and the list goes on and on.
I’ve said it before in this column, if we don’t learn from all of the events of the past, good and bad, then we are doomed to repeat them, only this time I think we have run out of time to make the same mistakes.
I wonder if you keep a list of events that have happened in your lifetime in your wallet, what it will read like in 60 years? I won’t be around to know, but it would still be an interesting list to keep for yourself to look back on.
I hope, by then, we have gotten our collective act together and made the world a better place to live.