A Letter to my (Future) Sixty-five-year-old Grandson

As I approach my sixty-fifth birthday, my mind (what is left of it) wanders as it often does into the future. When you reach this milestone, I will be one hundred and thirty years old. I will probably either be dead or a regular on TV—if that even exists, it was in its infancy when I arrived on the planet.

What your world will look like we can only imagine.

I thought it might be interesting to compare the differences between the world I was born into, 1956, and the world you were born into sixty-five years later, 2021.

In 1956 the world was in the very midst of the arms race, as the US, Russia, and China sought to build as many nuclear weapons as possible to kill each other 1000 times over.

Elvis Presley had his first hit, Heartbreak Hotel

We elected Dwight David Eisenhower President and Richard Nixon became Vice-President. Nixon would lose a Presidential election to John Kennedy in 1960 then become President in 1968 then resign from office in 1974. He was a lesson in perseverance and arrogance.

Watch out for people like him, they arise periodically and wreak havoc with government and society.

Color TV was technically possible but uncommon.

There were three TV networks, and none operated 24 hours a day

Most telephones, if you were fortunate enough to have one, were hard-wired party lines, so you had to wait to make a call or listen in to others if so inclined.

The movie “The Ten Commandments” was a blockbuster with what were considered amazing special effects. Something you could do on a cell phone today with better results.

Rocky Marciano retired as the only undefeated world champion with 49 victories in boxing.

IBM invented the first computer hard drive. It weighed over a ton, was sixteen square feet in size, and could store 5 megabytes of information. It was astounding technology. The device I am writing this on has 100,000 times that capacity.

The Supreme Court in the case Browder V Gayle ruled racial segregation on public buses was illegal. (Yes this was 1956 not 1856, unbelievable I know.)

Fidel Castro incited the Cuban Revolution.

On the day I was born, July 25, 1956, the Andrea Doria collided with the S.S. Stockholm at sea off Nantucket, killing 52 people.

Not one manmade object had yet made it into space. (It happened in 1957 with the Russians launching Sputnik)

Average cost of a new house $11,700

Minimum wage $1.00

Average annual salary $4,450

Cost of a new car $2,050

Gallon of gas: $0.22

World Population: 2,835,299,673

You came into a much different world.

While we have reduced the number of thermonuclear weapons, there are still enough around to obliterate the entire population which now stands at 7,614,450 (and rising)

We have had our first Black President and First woman Vice President. Hopefully, in your lifetime, this will no longer be considered newsworthy.

Racial discord and discrimination still exist, but at least we are taking notice.

Above the earth there are thousands of active and inactive satellites, a permanently occupied space station, rovers on the surface of Mars, plans to send humans to Mars (which is likely to happen in your lifetime, perhaps with you on the trip), and we have discovered almost 5000 exo-planets in the galaxy.

Average cost of a new house: $408.800

Minimum wage $7.25 ( I know, right?)

Average annual salary $51,168

Cost of a new car $37,851

Gallon of gas: $3.143

But more important for you and your generation, you’ve been born into an existential crisis predicated on a fundamental disregard for truth.

I think it an easy prediction you will study the politics of these times as part of your education. No doubt much future research and analysis of what happened between 2016 and 2020 will offer insight into the troubling phenomenon of why we had a crisis of truth.

Somehow, truth and facts became not only malleable but open to interpretation. We somehow forgot the difference between opinion and fact. Instead of accepting facts that may differ from what some wanted to be true, they simply ignored them, claim they resulted from conspiracies, and just propagated “alternative” facts.

There are no alternative facts. A fact is a fact. A lie is a lie. And any attempt to conceal or alter facts to suit one’s own position is not only wrong but also dangerous.

One can hold opinions on food, music, art, and baseball but not truth, justice, or fairness.

When you are sixty-five, in the year 2086, I hope you are part of a society that recognizes and accepts facts and works toward insuring truth, justice, and fairness always win out over opinion.

I hope you play a part in making such a world better than the one you were born into.

When you look back, as I have done, on sixty-five years of life, I hope you take comfort in the fact you always sought the truth no matter what it may be and did your best to support it.

And I hope you live to at least one hundred and thirty so you can have this conversation in person with your sixty-five-year-old grandchild.

Tell them I said hi.


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