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Has America Stopped Dreaming?

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Tonight, Saturday, KATC TV our broadcast TV partners from across the Sunbeam Coulee will air an anniversary special about their facility. In 30 minutes they will take you back through 50 years of broadcast television.

St.Jude Hospital in Memphis recently held ceremonies to celebrate their amazing achievements in their first 50 years. Among those achievements are incredible advancements in the treatment of childhood cancers. To me St Jude has given me more than an double armful friends and families that celebrate living instead of recalling a life that was lost.

In a couple of months I will be like KATC and St Jude. If by the grace of God if I manage to not screw up really bad I too will be in that 50 club. There is nothing like hitting a milestone number of trips around the sun to make you stop and think.

My catalyst for this essay wasn’t about turning 50, my inspiration was the picture you see at the top of this post. This is a picture a Facebook friend shared of his son watching the Space Shuttle fly over their home on its way to a museum in California. This picture may be the thousand words that describe me and my generation.

Born in the early 60′s we were too young for Woodstock and the Summer of Love. We grew up watching the Brady Bunch, Carol Burnett and The Love Boat on TV. We were captivated when Neal Armstrong took his small step on the surface of the  moon. We were devastated when the Challenger lifted off to touch the face of God. Ours was a generation of dreamers.We looked to the sky to see an endless frontier of stars and planets we wanted to touch. When we were kids we read books about colonies on the Moon and flying cars by the time the year 2000 came around.

What happened?

I think we stopped dreaming. The harsh reality of life as we know it did what our parents could never do, stop us from reaching out for our dreams.  We got caught in a world of self absorption and over indulgence. We quit using our imagination and turned to computer aided intrigue.

We stopped reaching for the stars and began to feel entitled that the stars should be brought to us. We were great as kids, we absolutely  suck as adults.

We want everything for our kids and sometimes go way beyond our means to give it them. Yet in some cases we have failed to teach our children basic human kindness and respect. When is the last time a 14 year old said “yes sir” or even “thank you”?

This is what brings me back to the picture at the top of this post. I remember being that little boy at the top of the slide staring in amazement at the heavens. We didn’t have Space Shuttles where I grew up but we did have the Moon and the stars. I recall standing on my sliding board on a very hot July night in 1969 looking up at the heavens and talking to Neal Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

I remember asking them to take me with them the next time they made that trip. I wanted to see what they saw, feel what they felt and know what they knew. I wonder if the little boy in this picture is thinking similar thoughts?

He will never see a Space Shuttle fly again. The way the government is going he might not ever feel the excitement generated by a spacecraft at lift off. I wonder what his dreams are or if he even knows how to do it? Has his sense of imagination become so dulled by the incredible graphics and outlandish presentations on our computers that he doesn’t need to?

I will leave you with this quote from the TV show Night Court, it was popular a few years ago when I was younger. It basically sums up what growing older and not necessarily up means to me.

I don’t know what’s real anymore… When I was young, my mother told me Santa Claus was real. But when I got older- she told me he wasn’t. One book says Jesus is real: one book says he isn’t.

We’re living in the greatest country in the world! and we’re murdering each other in the streets. What did they expect when they made us believe in the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny then gave us the nuclear bomb to play with…

Hey diddle diddle the cat and the fiddle is a lie like all the rest, the astronauts killed the man in the moon, growing up took care of the rest.

 

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