What to write about?

That question crossed my mind early in the week as I thought about my column for today. I also considered what my topic would be for the one Our Voice I write per week.

You see, coming up with an idea for a column or Our Voice can be difficult. I found it easy to decide on an Our Voice that everyone in the editorial department could agree upon. But, by midweek, I was still struggling to find material for a column.

Then it happened. I got a phone call from a reader about the column I wrote a week ago titled, “It’s not the 1950s anymore.”

The gentleman grew up in the 1950s. He told me he was a high school senior in 1955 and said that “those weren’t the good ole days.”

I asked, “why not?”

“I grew up dirt poor but didn’t know it,” he said. “I had to go outside to go to the bathroom. I tell people today is the good ole days. Most of us have it made.”

It’s a matter of perspective. As the gentleman and I continued a lengthy and pleasant conversation we found agreement on several fronts.

Life was simpler back in the day. People had better one-on-one relationships with their immediate neighbors and others in the community. 

“There wasn’t much to do socially,” he said. “One good thing was that when any church had a revival you went to church. You got to see people and visit while being in church.”

I remember those times too when a revival was a big event in a small town. It wasn’t uncommon for people to invite friends, acquaintances and even strangers to a meeting under the steeple. The events don’t happen as much anymore and people aren’t as apt to invite others to take part.

Today, there is not as much face-to-face interaction. The hustle and bustle of life and social media has changed the way we communicate with people.

I loved the time I grew up. I’m amazed at the advances that have been made in little less than six decades.

Time was snail mail or a long distance phone call was about the easiest way to communicate with family and friends who were far away. Now, there is instant messaging, chat and Skype, my personal favorite.

Just this week, my wife and I Skyped with our daughter who is 2,500 miles away from home. It was good to talk with her. It was better to see her and the expressions she made during the hour-long conversation. 

Even in the 1970s and 80s an extended long distance phone call would have cost an arm and a leg. Not today with unlimited calling and text options.

That reminds me of a time in college when a dad came into the dorm in which I worked and asked for his son. It was easy to tell that he wasn’t a happy camper. I checked and told him his son should be in class.

The dad waited. When his son walked into the lobby upstairs they went. A few minutes later dad came down with the telephone. As it turns out the young man, a freshman, had chatted with his girlfriend back home almost nightly during the the previous month. During his first few weeks away from home, he had run up a bill that cost more than tuition and books for an entire semester.

Yes, arguments can be made about the good ole days. For me, those days were when I was growing up and as my caller suggested “maybe it’s because your parents did the worrying.” Point taken.

I must admit, I’m thankful for technology that allows me to stay in almost constant contact with family and friends who are far away at a fraction of the cost of yesteryear and with little of the hassle. I stand by my premise that I wouldn’t change a thing about how life was when I grew up. But, like my caller, from a convenience standpoint we’ve made great strides. Now, if we could just get our priorities in order, but that’s another topic for another day.



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