Publishers Corner by Richard Shaw
I began work on this article on Dec. 30, 2010. Now you are reading it in the new year of 2011. Like these pages in time, life also moves on, still the same, but ever changing.
For years there have been lists going around that say something like "The people starting college this year don't remember the following things." Then the piece names all the events that anyone over 30 would remember but that 18 year olds would not. These are usually done to shock those who read it into realizing how old they are.
Personally I have all the major memories most baby boomers have; the Kennedy assasination, the Vietnam War, man walking on the moon, the embassy hostages in Iran, the Challenger Disaster and 9-11 right up through the present.
Those one time current events are as much history to me now as is the Civil War, World War I, or the Great Depression. Other than a personal recollection of where I was or what I felt at the time, they are history, and in fact today much more fully explained than they were when they happened.
To me what is more shocking is not that they don't directly remember things that happened during my life time, but that they and people much older than themselves can't tell you basic facts about America's building blocks and our society.
No one points out this lack of understanding better than Jay Leno's Jay Walking segment on the Tonight Show. Now I don't know how many people he has go through before he finds someone who doesn't know what countries border the United States or who our main adversary during the Cold War was, but he finds them. And some of them are often supposedly well educated individuals with college degrees.
I have to admit I am horribly disappointed when I find that someone has no historical perspective about the world. It's like they really believe nothing went on before they were here and nothing will go on after they leave.
How can someone not have some idea of what brought civilization to where it is today? In this day and age you don't even need to read books to learn about it; movies, television and even the I nternet is full of information that takes no effort to absorb.
At one time you could accept ignorance of things because people couldn't read or didn't have good access to information. But today, not knowing about at least the basics of the past and of society's building blocks is pure self centeredness.
It is, in my estimation, the height of egotism.