Is The Country Going to Hell in a Handbasket?
If she were alive, my grandmother would say, "Yes"
I love football.
But watching all the hoopla around the start of college football season a couple of days ago made me wonder: What if we cared about each other as much as we cared about the Arkansas Razorbacks or any team for that matter?
What if we cared about the neighbor down the road struggling to buy groceries? Or the elderly battling loneliness because they think no one cares about them because they don’t move as fast as they once did? Or the grieving family who lost a loved one unexpectedly?
To take it a sports level: What about the athlete sitting on the sidelines wishing they could play but the coach won’t give them a shot?
I must have gotten my grandmother’s genes.
During the Depression, my grandmother, Ida Wells Hall Cooper, cared for her eight children with grandchildren in the mix, too, in the deep bottoms of Herbine in Cleveland County. Her mother, who everyone called Mama, lived with her, too, and was dying of cancer. No cancer treatments existed then, and a country doctor occasionally made the rounds on horseback through the community. The rest of time my grandmother – or Gra Gra as I called her — took care of her mother using remedies she made herself. My grandmother was dirt poor. Her husband was a carpenter, but he was also an abusive, violent alcoholic.
Yet, my grandmother cared about people. So did her neighbors.
She and her neighbor way across the pasture would raise a white flag — actually a white bed sheet — when one of them needed something. That meant “Come now, I need help.”
We don’t have white flags anymore.
We live in a digital world with everyone staring at their phones, taking selfies, bragging about their Saturday afternoon at the game and texting to friends instead of actually dialing them to see if they need something. We may see red flags or calls for help on social media, but we ignore those, too. We’re too busy keep scrolling.
Let me tell you, a human voice, a human touch can go a long way especially in trouble times.
Frankly, it’s quite a pathetic society we live in these days.
I recently listened to the Oliver Anthony song, “Rich Men North of Richmond.” That’s a song about America’s working man and woman. Anthony has taken a lot of heat for the song from all sides of the political spectrum. But he’s dead on about rich people keeping poor ones down in a “new world.” Take it a step further, I think we’re all forgetting about each other.
Once upon a time, not long ago, you’d go and get your oil changed or sit in a doctor’s office and people would talk to each other. Not so much anymore. Everyone is starting at that glowing screen, scrolling and scrolling, searching for God knows what, talking to God knows who but definitely not engaging with the world around them.
I’m the opposite. Sure, I love my phone. But I also like to have conversations even with people. Conversations allow you to learn about other people even if you don’t agree with them. Everything is so polarized around politics these days. Can’t talk to this person because they voted for Donald Trump. Can’t talk to that person because they voted for Joe Biden. Can’t talk to that person because they go to that church. Or they don’t go to church at all. Or they used to date or was married to so-and-so and we know how that went.
No, we probably don’t know how any of it goes because we don’t talk anymore. We glean information from social media. We think a lot of people’s lives are picture perfect because that’s how they want us to think it is. Smoke and mirrors. Same goes for politics. Dog and pony show. Same for goes for education. Happy kids, happy school. Same goes for government. Drink the Washington swampy Kool-Aid and all will be fine.
Even sports divide us.
The Razorbacks won, but now everyone is arguing about whether to have any more games in Little Rock because War Memorial Stadium was not prepared with enough concessions, especially water, for the approximately 44,000 who attended Saturday’s game.
Even if the game had gone off without a hitch, people would be complaining. If the Razorbacks had lost, everyone would say the team needed a new coach. Just wait, that’s probably coming once the Hogs hit conference play and lose a few games.
It seems like most people have a common ailment: They are just too big for their britches.
My mom often told me I was born in the wrong era. I think she was right.
Don’t get me wrong. I love modern life. I love air conditioning, indoor bathrooms, quick meals and yes, smart phones. I love a lot of things my grandmother did not have in Herbine in 1935.
But I long for a simpler time, too, when you could pick up the phone, dial a number and get a human to help you.
I long for sitting on a porch and yakking and arguing over a glass of sweet tea or a cheap beer. I long for a polite society where everyone is not divided, and civil conversations occur. I long for a time when parents talked to their kids on road trips instead of putting a screen in front of their face. Hell, I even long for the days when my parents let me ride in the front seat and no one wore seatbelts. If we died, we died.
Was life ideal 100 years ago? Or even 50 years ago? No, life has never been easy for anyone. But I dare say it was a world where people were more civil and compassionate, neighbor helped neighbor, and government was more respectful of our rights as Americans.
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