We may all be at least a little familiar with the cartoonist Walt Kelly’s character Pogo and Pogo’s most famous line of “we have met the enemy and it is us” (1971).
If you have read any of my previous attempts at looking at the world we live in and will bequeath to our children and grandchildren, you know that I am more than somewhat discouraged by the lack of character, intellectual integrity, and gentleness that seems to pervade our world, our political discourse, and our personal interactions.
I am quite willing to concede that this is not a new phenomenon and that I have a distorted view of how things were, largely based on my upbringing that taught me to value character and respect.
Having said that, I have been wondering what we Silver Lifers can do about it and I think I have hit upon a possible plan of action that might just sow a few seeds that may bear fruit at a later time.
I said that I and my siblings were taught the standards that I tried to follow. And when I got to thinking about it, I remembered that not only was I taught by my parents, but the other adult role models in my life played an important part in shaping my standards as well.
I had wonderful teachers, coaches, scout leaders, even a few of the NCOs I suffered through in my time in the service. I am confident that most of us can identify with that and have fond memories of favorite adults outside our families who had an influence on us.
Now that we are no longer burdened by working full time, maybe we should make it our mission to undertake a small measure of that role in our own communities. There are ample opportunities to do “something” that will possibly have an impact. I can think of volunteer positions at local libraries or tutoring in the neighborhood schools.
For those with a history of successful business or trade skills, there is mentoring start-up young entrepreneurs and tradesmen. If you have an athletic background, be an assistant coach for the local youth team in your specialty. If you live near a university, take a class and contribute to the discussion of the topic being taught. The possibilities are endless and to withhold our experiences and our standards is to stand by as our children and grandchildren go into the world with little or no appropriate role model.
I think that we should not stand by silently and figuratively wring our hands at the deplorable state of the world. To me this is the equivalent of refusing to vote and then complaining loudly about the government we have.
And who knows, maybe you will reap the benefit of enjoying yourself, getting out and meeting new people, and being active. If the enemy of a thriving civilization is deteriorating standards, it is up to us to not be an ally of that enemy.