We're Doing Great, But We Can Do Better
Keep the Pot Boiling!
As the 21st century gets under way, there's a lot to be said about the benefits of being alive at this juncture in history, especially here in the good old U.S.A.
While most of us are far from wealthy, we are, as a whole, enjoying a standard of living that previous generations could only envy.
We have things -- lots of things. Sleek air-conditioned automobiles, designer clothes, television, telephones with answering machines and even, for some of us, a home computer hooked up to the Internet.
We Have Lots of 'Little' Things
More importantly, we have lots of little things -- convenient things that make life a little easier for us; things like electric shavers, automatic dishwashers and -- something our ancestors could not have imagined -- indoor plumbing and facial and toilet tissues. We also have giant shopping centers where we can buy just about anything we'd like -- not to mention, for most of us, access to quality medical care.
More often than not we have a fairly decent job, work 40 hours a week or less, and enjoy time off from work for holidays and vacations. We have checking accounts, stock portfolios, insurance coverage and, when the time comes, retirement accounts, Social Security and a proper burial.
There's a wide range of easy-to-get-to entertainment available to us, whether it's a movie at a local theater or a trip to see Mickey Mouse at Disney Land or Disney World. We can take a drive to Long Island or the New Jersey shore, hop a train to Washington, D.C., to see the Lincoln Memorial or pack our bathing suits and jet to Hawaii, the Virgin Islands or Buenos Aires.
We're Living 'The Life of Riley'
There's no question about it: We've got it made! We're living the "Life of Riley!" Right?
We are certainly enjoying the prosperity that "things" offer us, but, as I remember the "Life of Riley" -- on radio, and, later, on television -- Riley, his wife, Peg, son, Junior, and daughter, Babs, lived in a world far different from the one we live in today.
I, for one, think Riley's world was better.
Things were a little less important in those days.
Families, friends and neighbors were closer. They cared more about one another. They worried less about who had the bigger car, the more impressive job, the more luxurious home or the greater influence.
Most people I knew back then believed it to be important to try to live a moral, decent life, despite the fact that we often failed to achieve our lofty goals.
Ethical and Moral Decline?
It isn't so much that entertainment today has become a steady stream of silly, mindless, sexual farce, or that people, in general, seem to hold little reverence for anything that doesn't offer quick and direct benefits; no, what I find most disconcerting is that so few decry the obvious decline in the ethics and morals we see reflected daily in newspapers, on television and even with friends and neighbors.
Where is the indignation? Where is the cry for something better?
Can we really savor the good fortune of a thriving economy while the disparity between rich and poor grows in leaps and bounds? While thousands are homeless? While large numbers of the world's children go hungry every day?
We can do better.
I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on March 9, 2000. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages.