What is This World Coming To? | Wash Your Mouth Out Wednesdays

It's not yet time for the end of the world. Image courtesy of ddpavumba / freedigitalphotos.net

It’s not yet time for the end of the world. Image courtesy of ddpavumba / freedigitalphotos.net

Well, I heard it again today.  I may not hear it everyday, but I do hear it several times a week. What is this world coming to? While you’re standing at the Mouth of Truth with me, let me tell you why this irks me, and why those who say it should have their mouths washed out with soap. It goes much farther that mere “irk”, and makes me want to poke my eyeballs out with tire irons while standing in front of the big speakers at the noisiest garbage-music-of-a-concert I can imagine. I simply don’t want to hear it any longer. You may be starting to understand that I disagree with the sentment behind this rhetorical question slash cliche.

The simple truth is that times change, and the needs of the world’s citizens change with the times.  The way we look at the world must also change in such a way that we understand how our way may not always be the best way. Just because “that’s the way we’ve always done things ’round here” doesn’t mean that our way was ever correct, moral, just, or even made sense for that matter.

Consider what people have to say about the rate of divorce in the US. This week I saw a headline – HEADLINE – on CNN about the demise of “lifetime marriages,” with a picture of Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas.  What?  Wasn’t this her 3rd or 4th marriage?  Haven’t they only been married for, like 20 years?  How is this a lifetime? They say that people don’t take marriage seriously any longer – that it is simply a matter of convenience until something better comes along.  In an earlier era, 50 years ago, for example, what this probably meant was that more people were living out their entire adult lives in marital misery because of fear of the social stigma of divorce. I don’t like divorce, and feel that it is damaging to both parties as well as any children, but I’m glad it is possible. I don’t want to see anyone’s marriage dissolve, but I also realize that it might be much worse to live out my days with someone who doesn’t really love me, is mean or demeaning to me, or just doesn’t appreciate me like they could.

Let us also consider what we see in the news. A scurge of pedaphile teachers? Or a  movement toward a 50-state approval of gay marriage?  I hate to be the one to rain on your parade, but teachers have always had inappropriate relationships with their students. And gay people have always wished for the same rights that married people have. Why shouldn’t the partner of a gay spouse be allowed to inherit their posessions, just as an opposite-sex spouse would?  If you loved someone, and they were your life partner, wouldn’t you want your worldly possessions to automatically become the possessions of this person after your death?  I would, and also understand that this issue goes far beyond inheritance.

So what is the difference in this new-fangled world that has apparently gone awry, and the world of yesteryear?  Maybe it is the internet. We know immediately what happens on the other side of the world, but we also know what happens just down the street from us.  Before the internet existed, you might not ever hear of these things. You can check your local sheriff’s office website for a list of sex offenders in your area. You know where these people live, and where to keep your kids from going. You quickly hear about all the latest happenings from small-town America. Or you are in small-town American and hear the big-town news, and realize that your town may not be so different afterall. We’re not yet used to having all this information.

The internet brings you good things as well as bad. If you are curious about a particular species of butterfly, you can be sure that if you type the name into a search engine, you will be rewarded with a plethora of conversations about this insect.  Certainly, if you turn on the news and a pedaphile story was a hot topic last week in Omaha, you can be sure to find other stories about pedaphiles in Birmingham, Cullman, and Hollywood as well. Would you have had access to this information in the 1980s?  No, you would not have. The bad news from our own towns is hard to hear, but when you have to listen to the worst news from across the world each day, things can seem rather bleak.

I have also encountered a large number of people who are concerned about our nation’s support of developing countries.  They want to know why, if we have hungry people here, do we give generously to other countries with corrupt or struggling governments. All I can say to these spoil-sports is that the woman in the news story is someone’s mom, someone’s cherished child, or someone’s spouse. Just as you are able to go to the free or reduced cost clinic down the street, these people who love their loved ones should be able to do the same. Perhaps we should go back to a simpler time when the US did not provide foreign aid to needy countries.  I don’t like that idea at all.

We have this vast amount of information at our disposal, and I’m not sure what is confusing or irritating about it.  People suffer, we can fix it.  In the past, we were less able to alleviate the pain that this world is so good at bringing. Whether the topic be divorce, child molestation, or foreign aid, if you don’t know so much about it, just do a search. You will find stories that will break your heart, make you believe that even god himself doesn’t care, but also stories that affirm your faith in the common man.

Perhaps, however, this longing for a return to simpler times is merely a nostalgia for our own pasts, and for the carefree days of childhood.  Your momma might have spanked your butt completely off, but somehow, in your mind, it made you a better person. Most of us have fond memories of our younger days, before bills, before deciding which of the lesser of two (or three) evils to vote into office, and before we were overwhelmed with the responsibilities of adulthood. Sadly, we can’t go back, but would we really want to?

It is a fact of life that things change. In fact, things need to change. If you can’t see the need for it, or choose to believe otherwise, then you doom yourself to live a sad, angry existence, wondering how everyone else can just give in and be so darned modern. So, in closing, let me answer this question. What is this world coming to?  It is simple my friends – the future.