Friday, November 15, 2013

A tidbit to ponder: hope with the passage of time ... and people

Joyce Appleby is an historian of the United States who brings a long view to our current conundrums. From an interview by Bill Moyers:

BILL MOYERS: Can societies evolve backwards?

JOYCE APPLEBY: I don't think so. ... I mean, one of the fascinating things to me is that we have a political system today, probably only in the last ten years, I don't know, that seems sort of moribund and rigid.

And also, you've got to recognize the element of racism in this. This long sense of a dominant, white male authority in the country and today you have, you know, this racial diversity, you have women in positions of power. I think there's-- that’s why I don't think this is going to last.

BILL MOYERS: So you think-- what's not going to last?

JOYCE APPLEBY: This rigidity. It's not going to last. And this is a terrible thing to say, but I am old person so I can say it. I believe in reform by the grim reaper. I don't think it's going to last because I don't think there’s a rank of young people who are that frightened by the diversity, the demographic diversity and the presence of women and the changes in our society. …

This reminded me of a elder friend, a Quaker, who 30 years ago had great hope that her meeting would eventually accept gay marriage. They operated by consensus, and so far were stymied by the issue. But she knew they'd come around:

"... some people will just have to die."

She didn't live to see, but consider the changes in the last ten years.

This post was queued up before I left for Bhutan.


Rain Trueax said...

A long while back I read a book about the age of Aquarius (no, it wasn't astrology) but it was about ushering in a new way of thinking and it said that's what would have to happen-- a generation die off. It was what always did finally enable the new. I am not sure it has to be that way but a lot of folks are set in a way and they simply will not look at facts. Others can learn and change through their whole lifetime. So flexibility and curiosity can enable change but it's not necessarily the norm in humans.

Hattie said...

What I think has changed is that people are on average better educated and have had more experiences. I also think we were diverted by a lot of new agey hoo-ha, which was basically masses of young white kids running around doing strange stuff in the 70s.
Where I saw quite a change with a generation disappearing was the demise of Germans who had experienced the World Wars. These were some of the meanest people on earth, and they held on to power over family and politics, even though they had either been active Nazis or participants in the failed Nazi adventures. I saw this dramatic shift occur there in the mid to late 80's.The effect in East Germany was to bring down the government.
I saw something similar in Spain, as the old guard died out there. I think the whole country partied for years after Franco died. The sexual revolution there was something to behold.
So yes, the changes are here. I don't want people to "die off," although it's inevitable. I'm sadly seeing decline and death among my peers, and it makes me feel sad.
The people having the most trouble with aging, as I see it, are the ones who did not make major investments in the next generation. Not necessarily parenthood, of course, but parenthood is the main commitment to the future, the one most people make.

Anonymous said...

You folks never heard of cyclical history?

janinsanfran said...

Here in Bhutan, with development and change taking place at a pace that feels exponential, generational differences are right out in view. The group I am with has one guide who is pretty old for here, nearly 50, and he gushes over the changes he has seen. His assistant, 15 years younger, lives in an entirely different world. And about one third of the country is in school -- it is not at all clear what sort of jobs will be there for all these educated young people.

More when I get home and digest a little.

Hattie: fascinating about the Germans. The few I knew, folks who had tossed up in the States, above all remembered the war as hunger.

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