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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Each generation faces new concerns

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

As one of many voices, I have complained and made dire predictions concerning the state of current society in America. The signs are abundant. The culture of this great nation seems headed for that proverbial slippery slope into rudeness, crudeness and a rapid decline in morals. It's not just Howard Stern's language or Janet Jackson's boob - it's the decline in respect for authority and the rush of dependence on others to solve our own problems.

But society has a life of its own. Movements come and go. The pendulum - as they say - will swing one way and then reverse itself and swing back once again. The liberalism of one generation will give way to the conservatism of another. Or at least that's the way the history books read.

I was struck by this revelation recently while reading about the concerns of another generation. It seems that today's society is not the only one to grapple with the misguided pursuits of youth and the general decay in the level of society.

In fact, it was 50 years ago this very week that the highly respected Hartford Courant newspaper began a campaign to change the face of youth culture with a frontal attack on the latest deplorable trend adopted by the youth of the day.

The Courant mounted a massive campaign against a terrible influence which - like today's rap music, for example - glorified "crime and featured sex, sadism and cannibalism". This corruption of the youth in 1954 was none other than comic books!

The Courant told front page readers that, "The jig is now up for the panhandlers of dirty comic books..their end is in sight and they know it." The date was April 3, 1954.

Reading those fiery words written by one of the most respected newspapers in the nation seems downright silly today. Were our only social concern today the content of a comic books, we'd think we had died and gone to heaven. The current issues that plague today's youth seems enormous compared to the fantasy world of comic books. But in a different era, the comic book content was cause for considerable concern. My how life has changed.

What strikes me is this. Every generation faces issues unlike all of those that have preceded it. We think with great certainty that today's youth are often headed down the wrong path with amazing speed. We think with great certainty that there is no end in sight to the decline of society. Yet now looking back at the top issue of the day just 50 years ago, maybe we can put some issues into perspective. What shook our world 50 years ago seems like child's play today. And 50 years from now we'll probably look back with humor at some of the issues that frame society's current debates. Only time will tell.



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