An Essay in Three Parts
Part I: Imagination
I wonder what happened to the concepts of Imagination, Reality, and Responsibility.
I was born into the baby boomer generation.
I grew up in the age of Post-World War II prosperity, the assassination of two Kennedys & Dr. Martin Luther King, Vietnam, Woodstock, Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll.
We had our own imaginations, stimulated perhaps by our American innocence or arrogance. The belief that there was nothing we couldn’t do and whatever we did, it was the right thing.
We learned differently, later, that it wasn’t exactly true, but we had some moments.
I wonder where they’ve gone.
A President with the foresight to see the long term benefit of going to the Moon and back, followed by a President who couldn’t see beyond the jungles of Vietnam.
I was enthralled by the US Space program, and the competition with the Soviets.
It showed our imagination.
We had the Mercury project. 7 Astronauts brave enough to ride a low bid government built rocket into orbit.
Mercury, the messenger of the Gods.
Then came the Gemini project.
Two astronauts riding into orbit, brave enough to exit the craft while in orbit, tethered by a similar low bid government built cable.
And then the ultimate.
The god of light and truth.
Men brave enough to fly, in a compartment the size of a small car, 250,000 miles, over three days, to land in an even smaller vehicle, on the surface of the moon.
The Eagle has landed!
I can’t remember much of the things that happened yesterday, but I remember sitting there watching that grainy image of Armstrong descending the Lunar Lander.
53 Years ago.
Imagine, we did.
Then things went down hill.
We had the ‘Shuttle’ program.
Sounds like a bus for the elderly.
As spectacular as some of the missions were, and not to demean the courage of the men and women that flew those missions, where was the imagination?
Now we don’t even have that.
We have to rely on the Russians, Chinese, or others to get to the Space Station.
We’ve lost our imagination.
I don’t know what to blame, but I do know that much of what I imagined came from reading books, playing in the woods, building model rockets, hanging outside with my friends looking up at the stars, exploring, wandering, talking, listening, learning, teaching, getting hurt, getting over it, being knocked down, getting back up.
We played baseball outside, not on high-definition monitors.
We played “Army” with pretty realistic looking guns, most of us didn’t become mass murderers.
While I am on that subject, most of the people I grew up with had guns.
Many of them got into arguments and fights with each other.
I got into a share of them.
I was not a big guy.
I often lost.
I had easy access to a host of weapons. Many that would be considered “Assault” weapons.
It NEVER occurred to me to take one, go to school, and shoot innocent people.
Nor did it occur to anyone else that I grew up with to do that.
Perhaps, it was because I learned early on I, and I alone, was responsible for my actions.
Not my circumstances.
Not my influences.
Not my parents.
Not my friends
Not anyone, but me.
Life is NOT FAIR (trademark comment by Margaret “Peg” Broadmeadow, the mother of Joseph, Peggy, Michael, Mary, and Catherine)
Get over it, or sign yourself into the asylum.
4 thoughts on “Imagination, Reality, and Responsibility”
Good essay,Joe. I have my own theory about part of the change. Instant communication. TV, the media, etc. We receive any and all news almost immediately as it happens. Most of which we don’t even need to know. We are bombarded by it constantly and anyone who may be mentally unstable can not be sheilded from it. The media is so very negative in almost everything they report, that it can be overwhelming to these people and so they react, negatively. Back in the days you speak of, it would have taken days for most news to reach the public and so the impact was not as intense. I could talk more about this but it would take a lot more time. Just a theory of mine, agree or disagree, I really believe it is part of the problem causing so much violence.Way back in MY day, we didn’t even have a tv and sometimes never heard some news until days, weeks and even months after it happened. Time gives a chance for most people to be able to put things in perspective. Well, that’s my two cents..
I thought it was very good. And when I grew up , we could walk in the dark without worring about if you were going to get shot or o
ther happings. Everyone has to answer for themself. Not everyone is crazy, going around shooting , only the nut cases. Guns do not kill, only the crazies who would fine a way weather guns, knives, or what ever.
Thanks for reading these. More to come.
All true, I find your writing poignant. Great work. Fun reminiscing.