I am a miracle in this day and age, I was born in the mid fifties, my parents and those like them are even bigger miracles so it seems in this day and age. What makes us and those like us so special is simple. We survived.
We survived without seat belts and airbags, without bicycle helmets and without anti-lock brakes. We were taught how to drive correctly and we didn't get behind the wheel and say “don't worry I've got insurance or airbags or whatever”. We understood that it was up to us to watch out for the other guy and be careful ourselves and we didn't have cell phones. We survived by knowing that if you spill hot coffee in your lap while driving it is your fault and you will get burned. We survived being called names based on our ethnic. racial or religious origins, you see sticks and stones may break our bones but names will never hurt us because we had self esteem and we understood people are different.
We understood that taking chances meant just that you could win or lose, get hurt or die but life was meant as we understood to be lived to be experienced. Nothing was learned by being told what to do. You had to experience it.
Insurance was an option because we didn't have millions of lawyers to support. If we kids got into a fist fight the police were not called. It was kids being kids and you learned that fighting solved nothing.
Gun control meant that if you used a gun for a crime there was a law against it and you went to jail. You treated your teachers with respect or your parents made sure you did. If you didn't get picked to play on a little league team it taught you that some people are better than others at things and that was a fact you had to live with. Your parents didn't sue the coaches. We understood that doctors just practiced medicine they haven't perfected it and they were human. After school on weekends and vacations we played outside Cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, war, sports or rode our bicycles. If it was warm out our parents told us to drink a lot of fluids. A/C wasn't around a lot back then and we understood that the pioneers who founded this great country did so by walking or riding horses across it and working in whatever type of weather Mother Nature dished out. They were not wimps why should we be. We swam in lakes, ponds, and rivers without lifeguards. If we wanted money for things kids wanted we got paper routes, sold seeds, cut lawns, shoveled driveways. In short we earned our way and didn't expect handouts. We said please and thank you, excuse me and I'm sorry. We swore too but never in front of adults. We snuck cigarettes and beers from our parents and learned first hand what it did to you. How the first puff on that cigar or cigarette turned you green. How too much liquor made you vomit and feel lousy for a day or two, in short we learned moderation. Try riding a bicycle after a few beers when you are in your teens and you learned first hand why not to drive drunk. When you played with fireworks you knew you could get hurt so you were careful.
Most laws back then were based on logic with the majority in mind. Our parents understood that if you didn't make enough money you couldn't live in a nicer part of town. That wasn't considered discrimination but rather it was considered an incentive for you to get an education and a better job so you made enough money to do so. You didn't expect or require the government to use tax dollars to help you move into a nicer home. Back when I was growing up the government was not a re-distributor of the wealth. If you didn't have money for food or rent, your family, friends or churches helped you until you got back on your feet. Living on public assistance was not widely used and definitely wasn't considered a career choice as it is today. If you couldn't afford to have a child you didn't until you were able to. You didn't expect the government to pay for your child and then give you more for each successive one. We understood talent, intelligence, strength and other qualities were prized gifts from God and we didn't expect standards lowered. We understood that standards were just that, a measuring mark so that those with true gifts could see them and reap the benefits of the gifts given to them by God, not something to be lowered so that we could have a false sense of pride.
When I was a junior in high school 7 of my friends were killed fooling around in a car. No drugs or alcohol were involved, rather the sense of normal teenage invulnerability. There was street on the outskirts of town where if you took the bump at the right speed, the car would become airborne. Many of us myself included did it and lived. They didn't. No crisis teams were sent to the school, we weren't coddled. We were told this was part of life. You are born you are going to die, some young some old but it would happen to each of us. It showed us our mortality. We weren't told there was a certain correct way to grieve, we had to learn on our own what worked for us, what got us through this sad time. We grew up a little bit more that day and learned to look inside ourselves for our own strength. A year later some of my friends and acquaintances were off to a tropical vacation courtesy of the U.S. Government to a country called Vietnam. Some made it back some didn't but once again we learned and grew up. During this same time time we learned about trust and belief in other kids, adults and the government. Some us marched in protests against the war and kept that philosophy forever. Some marched and changed their minds and some didn't march but later changed their minds. We went in all directions. We were learning to think for ourselves.
We were brought up to respect the police. We were taught that you did what the officer said when they said it or you suffered the consequences. When someone ran from the police and there was a high speed chase no matter how it ended it was the person who ran who was at fault. If you tried to hurt or kill an officer and you were hurt or killed it was your fault. There were no organized parades in honor of people who tried to hurt or kill police officers. Again we were taught a simple logic, We The People needed some protection and so we gave some power to some people, it was called Law and those people enforced it. We found that for the vast majority of the times it was not abused and when it was logic again prevailed in that these people enforcing our laws are just that people, as good or bad as the rest of us and branding all of them bad because of one would be like saying all accountants are crooks when you find one embezzling. We remembered that these officers have to make decisions in a split second that the rest of us did not want to make ever and that was why we had them and when errors were made it was just that an error. As when you add a column of numbers incorrectly, so we didn't try to crucify them for mistakes. I played played with a neighborhood kid who was shot by an officer while he was running from a crime. No marches were held he should have just stopped. His family didn't try to get him sainthood, they were just embarrassed. You see they had true pride and self esteem that would not let them be false to what they knew was right.
Hate crimes didn't exist, not because there was no hatred or bigotry but rather because we had faith that the vast majority of the people were good and by letting the others say whatever they wanted to, no matter abhorrent was fine because nothing would come of it except to show what type of sick individual that person was. We were also taught the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That the right of Free Speech was very important and as our teachers were wont to say and the way I feel now, “I may disagree totally with you but I will fight to the death for your right to say it, because if they shut you up today, it might be me they shut up tomorrow”
We were brought up on Westerns where you learned that a mans word was his bond and his name was all that he truly had and to sully yours would haunt you forever. They also taught us to make do, to depend on ourselves and not look for or expect help from anyone else including the government. A true man took care of his family then if he could, his neighbors and friends. Also we didn't go around whining or being a cry baby saying this isn't fair these people have all this and I don't. We were taught you worked for what you wanted or needed and didn't expect handouts.
We were taught right from wrong and what was right was right and what was wrong was wrong. Lawyers and technicalities were the province of the weak, greedy and dishonest.
We were taught that the U.S. Constitution guaranteed us life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, happiness is not guaranteed. We were told God created all people equal not the government and no matter how many laws they pass all people are given limitations by God, and men and governments cannot change that fact.
We were taught to respect our elders and by that token to respect all People.
I miss those days!