The other day, my friend Pete was reminiscing about “the good old days.” Pete knows about the good old days, as he has lived through a lot of them.
Pete served in the Navy, and is now in his 80s. And he knows that with the good, some bad comes, too.
He remembers things like World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He also remembers his father’s stories of when he served in WWI.
With his musings, he asked the rest of us a question.
With all the carnage that took place in WWII and what those soldiers saw — many thousands of their comrades killed and maimed right before their eyes — the soldiers who survived it came home and raised their families and built up our nation’s prosperity without whining about their circumstances or needing comfort rooms full of stuffed toys on which they could cry.
So what is the difference in the men of those days and the people of today?
Today, it seems that it is not the minority that suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — or shell shock, as it was called back then — but the majority, as we are always hearing stories of someone whining about some circumstance that has “robbed” them of their peace and happiness.
They don’t even need a war. Little disappointments seem to put them in need of a happy place to which they can go so they can cry out their disappointments and restore their hope for the future.
Why is it this way, he asked?
My first thought was on how we are raised. The older generations were raised at home — no daycare centers, not much of babysitters either.
We would “play” with the neighbor kids or one of our aunts would “visit” or we would “visit” with her — but never a paid babysitter. It just was not part of our growing up.
Next was chores. Kids of yesteryear were expected to learn how things were taken care of by providing that care.
If you want eggs for breakfast, someone needed to feed and water the chickens and gather the eggs — similar for the cows, horses, dogs, cats, goats, sheep and so on.
In doing chores, we learned responsibility and built up our character. We were out of the house, breathing in fresh air and bathed in sunshine. At the end of the day, we were glad for sleep, too tired for hyper-activities.
This “new generation” does not know were their milk comes from — I know, I asked some of them. Their answer: “The grocery store.” I’m not kidding!
They grew up in daycare centers, where they were repeatedly told to sit down and be quiet!
With all their energies pent up that way, I have no wonder why so many are painted with the ADHD brush. They sit with their coloring book at the daycare, then they sit and watch TV at home.
Now, before puberty, they have cell phones with which to “play.” Certainly they have nothing to say, because they have not learned anything worth talking about.
Where is the exercise of the body? Where is the exercise of the mind? Where is the building of character? How will they learn responsibility?
Another octogenarian came up with this answer: In this country, there has been an ongoing effort to make “sissies” out of all of us.
We have participation awards, rather than winners; report cards that don’t report, because someone may be offended; those who excel are held back, so as not to make others feel inferior.
And other such “feel good” tactics, which are all designed to “make sissies out of us”. That is the view from more than 80 years of life experiences.
Modern liberals think that competition is harmful, and all such conflict should be avoided, and have been putting these conflict avoidance and competition-stifling ideas into practice.
Pete’s generation and before was filled with advice like: When you fall off of your horse, get back on. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
Pick yourself up by your own boot straps. If life knocks you down nine times, get up 10 times. What does not kill you makes you stronger.
The only things sure, in this world, are death and taxes. Get tough or die. Roll with the punches. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. There are no free lunches.
Our ancestors knew the hard knocks that life gives us! And with these and other such sayings, they tried to prepare the next generation to be able to face and overcome whatever troubles may befall them.
It is with this fortification that the WWII generation could face and overcome the trouble Hitler gave the world — not avoiding the conflict, but overcoming it.
Games and competitions were made to put us into direct conflict. The purpose was to build up character and stamina in the next generation.
Games and competition gave us practice and exercised us for other and greater conflicts and life’s troubles.
In gaining victory over others in these competitions, we learn that it takes hard work to excel through our troubles.
And this is what gave our troops the courage and stamina to overcome everything that stood in their way to victory, for freedom.
Which is better? Should we keep our kids away from any conflict? Is competition dangerous? Or should we put them into competitions and other controlled conflicts so they can learn to overcome their troubles?
I have an ongoing conflict that started very early in my life. While lying in my crib, I saw others walking around. I wanted to try to walk, too; but gravity was in conflict with me.
Gravity wanted me to stay lying in my crib and told me it was dangerous to walk. And sure enough it was.
Every time I tried to get up, gravity put me down. As I tried to walk, I would stumble and fall, and some of those falls hurt a lot.
But Mom would encourage me to keep trying. She kept putting me back into that conflict with gravity, ’til one day I had the victory, and have been walking ever since.
Then as I was walking around, I saw others riding bicycles. And I thought I would like to ride a bicycle, too.
And there was gravity again, trying again to put me down. And some of those falls hurt a lot.
My brother encouraged me to get back up and keep trying. I was put back into the conflict with gravity, ’til I had the victory, and have been able to ride a bicycle ever since.
Gravity is mischievous and even works under water. I could see others floating and swimming in the water, but gravity would pull me down to the bottom.
Not being able to breath under water, it was a very dangerous conflict. My family encouraged me, and put me back into the conflict, ’til I had the victory, and have been able to swim ever since.
I suppose if I was one to listen to liberals and had I taken their advice, I would have stayed in my crib and not put myself into conflict and learned to walk, ride a bicycle or swim.
Which is better? To learn to overcome life’s conflicts, or to cry and whine about all the trouble conflict could cause?
What if you unexpectedly fell into the lake? Do you want the confidence of knowing how to swim? Or would it be better to keep a stuffed toy handy, so you could have your crying companion with you as you drown?
We need to love the younger generations enough to enable them to learn to overcome conflict or conflict will surely overcome them.
PAUL FROWNFELTER of Henry County is a member of the local Volunteers for Freedom Tea Party. His email address is email@example.com.