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Good Morning Nanty Glo!


Friday, June 10 2005
Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Are things better, or
worse, since 1960?

I was jolted by a statement in a New York Daily News column on Thursday by Black writer Stanley Crouch, a columnist, novelist, essayist, critic, and television commentator. Since 1960, he said, we have seen "revolutionary social changes that made for a much better society." Having picked up on the theme of many supporters of Kerry-Edwards last year that the conservatives are trying to take us backwards, and having wondered where the downside of that was, I was a little shocked to see someone flatly say today's society is a much better one than that of a half century ago.

On the other hand, I am convinced that the gains of Black Americans in access to opportunity and social status have been substantial in the past generation and I can understand how looking at the era from that perspective would see it as a time of progress rather than of decline, in general. Ironically, in the same day's news coverage there was a review of the new memoirs of former Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, which propounds a different take on the race and civil rights struggles of the same era. Helms is quoted:

I did not advocate segregation, and I did not advocate aggravation. By that I mean that I thought it was wrong for people who did not know, and who did not care, about the relationships between neighbors and friends to force their ideas about how communities should work on the people who had built those communities in the first place. I believed right would prevail as people followed their own consciences.

We will never know how integration might have been achieved in neighborhoods across our land, because the opportunity was snatched away by outside agitators who had their own agendas to advance. We certainly do know the price paid by the stirring of hatred, the encouragement of violence, the suspicion and distrust. We do know that too many lives were lost, businesses were destroyed, millions of dollars were diverted from books and teachers to support the cost of buses and gasoline. We do know that turning our public schools into social laboratories almost destroyed them.

My interest in this topic—progress or decline since 1960—is not mainly focused on the race issues, but I want to start by acknowledging them as defining ones of the period for our country, so as not to be considered unaware or indifferent. Two perspectives have been proffered and, as someone who grew up in a region where race was not an issue and was touched by it mostly through news coverage, I won't pretend any expertise on it. That said, let's consider the positives and the negatives of the social changes since 1960.

Changes since 1960—half full or half empty?
After great disruption, improved racial harmony Proliferation of and free access to pornography
More openness to discussing "real" social issuesDeterioration of social civility, good manners
Freedom for—and of—distinctive personal stylesTen-fold increase in unmarried couples living together
Increased social disapproval of active adulterySoaring divorce rate; "broken families" virtually the norm
Openness about the role of God and "religion" in personal lifeOpen hostility toward God and religion from the left
Revolutionized telecommunications technologyLoss of "free time," face-to-face communication, and relaxation
Higher ethical standards in politics, workplacesLoss of innocence for children and adolescents

I'm sure there are more. Please add your suggestions for either or both columns. These should keep us talking for quite a while. Please send us your feedback.


A complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonals for 2001 - 2005

Parish magazine misprints

In reverse order of popularity, the Parish Pump Top 10 Church Magazine Misprints were as follows:

9. Paul Mitchell of Guildford, Western Australia, was surprised to discover Jesus acquired a useful domestic skill during his time on earth. The local paper, quoting Luke 24:35, informed its readers that: "The Lord was known in the baking of the bread." We can only presume that his use of self-raising flour was meant to be a sign.

Thought for today

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915)  

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