Looking ahead: Liberty essential to keeping country on the right track
[Second of two parts]
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In Saturday's column, under the influence of the Thanksgiving spirit, I celebrated the luck of my age group, born in the USA as it was winning World War II, and becoming a senior citizen before the national debt exceeded the country's Gross Domestic Product again.

I'm happy to have been young/middle-aged after the invention of the birth control pill and before the discovery of AIDS. Now I'm grateful for having been able to sign up for Social Security and Medicare before they run out of money.

Should they go bankrupt, my age group will probably get to keep at least limited benefits; unless, of course, we are "put to sleep" by a desperately broke government run by younger boomers and older Gen Xers. Even if that happens, we can be grateful for having had a long life, partly due to antibiotics and other medical wonders, during a period of economic prosperity.

Also, nothing can take this fact away from us: My generation rocked! When in history was music better than during my youth? While my parents watched Lawrence Welk on Saturday evening as they dressed to go dancing to Big Band music, I was in my room listening to the romantic musicals of the '50s, from "Brigadoon" through "West Side Story."

Later, my son had to listen to the musicals of the '60s with me. After sitting through the tale of Don Quixote in "Man of La Mancha," he named his stuffed toys "Donkey-hotay," "Monkey-hotay" and "Rabbit-hotay." He sang a selected song from "Hair" for his kindergarten music period, and his teacher called me; nowadays, DSS would show up at the door.

My friends and I were watching television when Elvis made rock 'n' roll history on "The Ed Sullivan Show." Around a decade later, I first felt my unborn son moving while I watched The Beatles on that same show.

I had "MacArthur Park" and "House of the Rising Sun," Jefferson Airplane and The Eagles, then lived to watch k.d. lang sing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" at the Vancouver Olympics. I also got to see "Les Miserables" and "Wicked."

Other generations can probably find all this on the Internet. The pleasure impact, however, in the midst of so much available entertainment, might not be as strong for them as it's been for me.

As children, we saw Disney musicals only in theaters; today's children watch them and "Shrek" at will. They also can't escape the ugly parts of our culture of which I wasn't aware until adulthood.

My parents got a television when I was 12. We and our friends all watched the same shows, from "I Remember Mama" to "Dragnet" and "Wagon Train." As a young mother, I saw an educational piece about computers that predicted they would take over the culture; I found it frightening.

Better to watch "Star Trek" and imagine a future in which problems on Earth were solved, allowing Americans and Russians to serve on a spaceship together with aliens like Mr. Spock.

When my son was small, I didn't allow him to watch violent TV shows or movies. Try avoiding them today!

It was an innocent time in my small town. I didn't learn about the Holocaust until college; there was no racism there because almost all of us were Caucasian. Abortions were illegal, and it was all we kids could do to get basic sex education ("Don't do it until you're married!" My son was born before I figured out what the "it" was that I wasn't supposed to do.). And we certainly weren't told anything about alternate lifestyles.

I'm not saying this was better, just that it was innocent.

By the time some of my age group emerged from our cocoon, Jews had vowed "never again," the Civil Rights Act was being drafted, women were liberating themselves, and some of our friends were declaring themselves "gay." Things were getting better, freer.

Of course it wasn't long before freedom turned to excess, after which political correctness took the place of some freedom. Which brings me to my conclusion. None of my happy life would have been possible if, shortly after my birth, the Nazis and Japanese had won World War II. My happy life wouldn't have lasted long if the Russians had won the Cold War, or the nuclear bomb we practiced "surviving" by ducking under our desks had arrived.

It didn't occur to my age group to worry about radical Islam until 2001, but I'm sure I wouldn't be happy living under Sharia Law, or any other fundamentalist religion. I wouldn't be happy living under any version of totalitarian government, and understand it can happen anywhere that citizens aren't eternally vigilant against it.

When I say that I've lived during the best time in history, I'm talking about the best time of the last 200,000 years, since humans evolved; history is only the past. The future history will be created by the decisions of our present.

I remain optimistic that with reason and technology we can deal with cultural change, maybe climate change, and even today's scary economic change as long as we understand that liberty is our highest value, and pass it down to our grateful descendants.

Part One:  Enjoying best of times, but what of the future?

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette.

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