Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from the Nanty Glo in My Mind'

More discussion of social changes since the 1960s

Changes since 1960—half full or half empty?




 Higher ethical standards in politics,
Loss of innocence for children and adolescents

The final two items from the table in our first entry on whether the changes between 1960 and 2005 have been for the better or worse are distinct and unrelated propositions.

+ Higher ethical standards in politics, workplaces. I'm sure there's lots of room for disagreement on this one. Bill George said "Workplaces maybe, but in politics, we must be on different planets." And I'm probably in a minority in thinking that the impeachments of both Nixon and Clinton were good for our country, our political system, and especially the preservation of ethics in elective offices and trusts. True, the "preservation" is virtually coerced when the threat of impeachment hangs over the head of every president, but better coerced than none, I would say.

Nothing takes me back to the "halcyon days"—aka my "salad days"—of President JFK than seeing retrospective news clips about him in action. A few moments of those clips take me back not only to him as a personna but the whole era; the days when I was editing the Journal, taking fulltime courses at Johnstown College, breaking in my first new Ford, beginning to think like and as an adult. It's a whole gestalt. But when all that comes back it also brings memories of the whole milieu of corruption that politics played out its games in those days. The scandals about JFK didn't become public—or at least believed by much of the public—until long after he was gone. After he'd been virtually sainted alongside George Washington and Pope John XXIII, his portrait hung in every American Catholic school classroom, we learned that rumors of dalliances with Marilyn Monroe and Mafia mistress Judith Campbell Exner were true.

To make matters worse, we learned that everyone in the White House Press Corps with whom the "martyred" President had been so chummy, were all in on the secrets but kept them as good old boy networks always do. Or did. And we were not better off for having been kept ignorant. I'm sure some will disagree, but I'm convinced that the way the press exposed Nixon and Clinton was much more fitting for a democratic society. Without access to the whole record of our public officials, we cannot vote intelligently. Character counts. In fact, for me, in politics, nothing else counts half as much.

In business, it's often political motivation that causes ethics "watchdogs" to go after corruption and enforce the standards. We've seen major falls like Enron and relatively minor ones like Martha Stewart. But it seems more attention is being paid. But alongside that, the much larger population of our time, with much less personal interaction between customers and companies, much more attention is needed.

- Loss of innocence for children and adolescents. Here, too, the media is center stage, though I think the whole generation that refused to grow up when they turned 30 between 1965 and 1975 is even more to blame (and I count myself as part of the problem here; how I rejoiced in the hippy flowering in pursuit of perpetual childhood and childishness of the late 'sixties). But by refusing to grow up, we refused to become role models for our children.

I remember my aunt whispering to my Mom about "brasierres" when I was in junior high, because it was considered inappropriate that a 13-year-old male should be privy to such talk among grown women. There were of course very coarse adults then, too, who held nothing back...but just the fact that a sizeable cross-section considered some things off limits helped us keep a sense of innocence that today's youngsters wouldn't be able to imagine. What American eight-year-old in the past quarter century has been spared not only hearing about "unmentionables" but even seeing Madonna, Britney, or Christina Aguilera in their underwear...or less?

But this is only a glimpse of the real problem represented by the loss of innocence in our younger generations. Everything from sex education to MTV to news coverage to commercials on televised sports to conversations heard over the backyard fence to Yahoo and Google has conspired to leave nothing to the imagination of even the youngest schoolkids. I'm often shocked at what today's parents don't even try to prevent their children seeing and hearing. And the results make headlines every day, like the murders of children by other children, the rape of a dog by a 17-year-old boy in Campobella, SC, reported this week, and endless similar accounts.

Sow to the wind...reap the whirlwind.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy


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Looking for a 1943 Nanty Glo
High School yearbook

Do you know any of the Bible
scholars in 1937 CMA VBS photo?

Letter explains why county taxes
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Today's chuckle

Married Life

It doesn't matter how often a married man changes his job; he still ends up with the same boss.

—Sent by Dawn O'Day

Thought for today

Everything you hear in ads and entertainment is telling you that your goal is to wake up next to someone gorgeous tomorrow morning. That's the rationale of consumer sex. But I think what humans really want is to wake up next to someone kind, fifty years from tomorrow morning.

— Frederica Mathewes-Green

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