Once upon a time there were daffodils that grew in the wild. There were fewer cars and fewer accidents, but not from what you might expect, but from common courtesy. The cars were not made with a preplanned obsolescence. You got what you paid for. There were skilled people whose skills were honored with loyalty. That was a time of innocence.
Once upon a time there were physicians who spoke of life and health with their patients. They communicated as friends in soft tones. Oh there were harsh words, there always were but much subdued in pitch and loudness. The physician healed through a sense of human dignity, loyalty to life and the personal desire for the best outcome for his or her patient. The physician knowledge was more holistic. There was a basic fabric of intelligence imbued within the basic human science and the art was practiced with reasoned parallel to human dignity. The nobility of the profession was cherished. Physicians spent their life in seeking benefit for the sick. They were scientists ruled by their own conscience to win the battle against disease. They had an open mind and freedom of thought. Money was not made the root of their being. They were free to express their knowledge and undermine the pathology of disease. That was the time of invention.
Once upon a time a picket fence was the desire. You worked until you could afford it and then you made it your castle, pristine and beautiful. And you were the king and the queen of that domain. The tax collector still knocked on the door and you gave him what was owed without prejudice of thought. The roads had to be made, streetlights had to be lit and safety of an individual guaranteed. So you paid. You walked the street with the knowledge of freedom. You strolled down the paths and watched the streetlights come on. There was a personal freedom. There was intent by all to keep it that way, for it was beneficial to all. You never locked your house with alarm systems blaring accidentally into the night. The car doors were left unlocked and the windows opened to air the cars on hot summer days, never once fearing theft. You never heard the chirp of a remote keyless alarm system being activated or an inadvertent alarm being set off with no one paying attention. That was the time of freedom.
Once upon a time there were few television stations and one television per household. The broadcast from the stations was the same news in the evening. You watched and listened and made up your mind about what was in store. The news was not outright propaganda based on an ideology but information. It was information to be gathered and each mind was to see fit to its own interpretation based on its knowledge. No pundits told you of what you should do or not do. No pundits told you where to go or where not to step, or suggest that this was a result of that when they had little or no knowledge of the facts themselves. No the information was delivered clean for consumption, not a predicate to change, cajole, modify thinking, mollify a differing mindset, nor to destroy enterprises of wealth for the simple sport of seeing it being done. That was the time of honesty.
Once upon a time, you looked into someone’s eyes rather than on a screen and communicated. Once upon a time the sport was “stick-ball” and not a flashing screen. Children ran and played hide-go-seek and laughter in the yards was the norm. The children demurred to their parents for their wisdom and age. They had respect in their eyes and their demeanors. Once upon a time snacks were for hunger not for convenience and boredom. That was the time of health and togetherness.
Once upon a time money had a hard asset behind it, called gold. The value was based on an asset. There were no printing presses that manufactured money on paper. There was no push to usher in a method to prevent deflation or inflation by infusing more money (with less value) in the system and thus artificially keeping the availability of capital to balance the spreadsheets and eventually lowering the value of buying power of that paper money. The stability of the economy was predicated on the yin and yang of the enterprises. The rise and fall based on supply and demand and all things always regressed to the mean eventually and were allowed to do so. Failures were a natural byproduct of decision-making and risk-taking. If you won, you made it and if you did not, you could lose it all. That was the time of reason.
Ah but we have come a long way from there. That was then and this is now. We have legislated and regulated to intervene into personal freedoms. We have deemed, deferred and isolated our instincts from our better angels. We have gained little for a lot that has been lost. Hate has replaced love. Anger has drowned civility while dogma has trumped reason. Times have changed.
And this is the time when we have grown fearful of each other. When neighbor does not speak with neighbor. When anger is the mode of discussion. When loyalty is a relic of the past. When love of money and material goods outshines every other virtue. When pointing fingers against others is a sport for the politicians. When balance sheets are massaged and manipulated for greater gain. When success is an isolated castle in the wilderness. When a 24/7 media generates news rather than report it. When doctors are demeaned and vilified and some use it as a sport for capital gains. When hard work is considered a travesty impinging on rights of others and lack of free flow of capital to the uninitiated is the call to arms. When words hurt. When feelings are all. When speech is stilted and stilled. When harm is considered a harmless sport. When humanity has lost its virtue.
Do I think that humanity is lost? No I don’t, but then I am an optimist. I think we will survive this, for the pendulum that swings, eventually returns to the center of human consciousness and decency. And it will. No matter how much the earth's tilt, to the Foucault’s Pendulum, the center always beckons.
And then again sometime in not too distant a future, the generations to come will write a different tale, “Once upon a time there was anger and greed and jealousy and...”