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Gotta Love the 90s

Updated on December 29, 2014

For the love of the 90s

Kids just wanted to “Jump” with Kris Cross or “Dance around” with House of Pain. It was inspiring to grow up in a world where U2 wanted us all to be “One” and Blessed Union of Souls, believed that racial prejudice could be conquered, that “love is the answer”.

Yes, in the 90’s we were always thanking God that it was Friday! Families around the country gathered around the television to watch a comic line up together. A mixture of laughter, connectivity and golden rule principles encouraged a stronger family bond and “aha moments” abound. Television was expected to be more than just mind numbing entertainment. It was a time when sitcoms, after-school specials and even network commercials encouraged a kinder, more thoughtful world with the “you can make a difference” or “moral of the story” message filling its plots. Encouraging us to stay off of drugs and avoid our brains being fried like eggs , as well as suggesting ideas of how to be a decent human being and make a positive impact on others, “because the more you know”...

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Learning and laughing

We learned about blended families and black families, we learned that these families were just like everyone else’s. Racial lines were blurred and crossed and slowly, but surely erased. As we welcomed these characters into our homes each week we developed tolerance and broke down racial stereotypes. We knew that in fact the nerdy kids next door “did do that”, but that he had feelings, so picking on kids like him was wrong. We learned about life as, the boy met the world and faced the challenges of growing up. We laughed along as a man made numerous home repair mistakes while raising a family of boys. And we grew with them as we laughed. Countless shows taught us about family and life. Even in our more dramatic series, we valued Law and Order and learned the remarkable urgency that ER doctors endured. It was a time when pop culture taught us well.

Culture shift

I suppose that every generation looks back on the era they grew up in and recall the “good old days” as it were. However, that is not exactly what I am suggesting here. While it does bring a smile to my face to remember these great songs and shows, there is more to it than heartwarming nostalgia. An awakening is needed for the current generation or perhaps the children of the nineties who are parenting the children of today. Though we were set on the morally sound, golden rule path, perhaps we have taken our upbringing for granite.

In a world where we were constantly encouraged to make a difference, to do better and be better, how is it possible that this same generation is now raising children who believe that the world is so small and confided and completely revolves around themselves? Self centered, self indulgent, rulers of their own world as they gaze, hypnotized by their ipods, pads and the mini computers we used to call phones. The ability to obtain knowledge about any subject imaginable is literally at their fingertips and connectivity is a just Tweet away. And we have joined in. Now, desperate to be “liked”, “Shared” and “re-tweeted” so that our brilliant words and observations will enlighten our “friends” as evidence that we are in fact making a difference and reaching others. And I am just as guilty. The World Wide Web made the world suddenly very big and my role in it very small. Sure there are a few people who will reach popularity or celebrity status which will give them the influence to make an impact. But “Who am I?” asks the everyday man. And so our vast world becomes small and confined to our family and our Facebook friends.

We sat back and watched our world change as quickly as we watched it grow. The message shifted from being kind to others and the people around you to “if it feels good do it”, (which leads to a lack of understanding consequences) “live for today” (which probably helped to cause the financial crisis) and my favorite “it’s all about the kids”. And while in theory that sounds like a good plan and a nice idea, idolizing our children is not only a mistake, it is the ruin of our future.

As we have sat back, seemingly powerless, either turning a blind eye and ignoring the world around us or awaiting the more powerful to make the changes we long for. Our hopes for a truly connected world have been exchanged for typed messages and instant photos of people we can barely hold a ten minute conversations with in person. It is now time to remember our heritage and be grateful for it. It is time to share those old lessons we learned and have taken for granted. It is time to reach out to our neighbors and strangers around us. To take action and bring our children with us as we make a difference in our communities and in our world.

Inspire and aspire, build your world

It is time to shift our message to inspire and aspire. Our goals should be to make a difference, to encourage, to do more in the world to impact the future. People matter and we must let our children see how we create the world we want.

I often tease my eleven year old son, who is a big mine craft fan, that the world out the front door is better than any world he can create on the computer. We must teach our children that there is, in fact, a wide world out there for them to make a difference in and that it is bigger than one’s self or even the family. That they have the power to create the world they want for themselves and for the future generations to come, not on the computer, but in their communities and in our world.

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