The technological differences stand out more than anything else when thinking of yesteryear. But let us set technology aside and look at how things have changed.
I was a kid in the 1960s and a teenager in the 1970s, so my vantage point comes from that period.
The school year ran from Labor Day until Memorial Day. My grandchildren’s school year ends the week of Memorial Day, but some start the year in late July, and the rest start in early August.
During the summer, I would go outside to play around nine in the morning. As a young grade school student, I could go wherever I wanted as long as I did not leave the street. At the end of our street was a vacant lot; during the summer, it was common to find every kid in the neighborhood down there playing ball. It was common to see all the neighborhood children inside someone’s home cooling off with a cold beverage on a hot summer day. We did not ask permission; it was the accepted thing to do.
There was a playground around the corner. I had to ask permission to go there, but I do not remember ever being denied. Sometimes, I’d go by myself, sometimes with other kids.
At lunchtime, “Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime!” could be heard blocks away as mom yelled out the front door. I would run home. After lunch, I was back outside until supper time. That was my typical summer day.
Parenting in this fashion would find many a parent today charged with child neglect. I am sure Mom looked down the street for me occasionally, but I was too young to notice.
I first shot a rifle at age six and went hunting at eight. I did not grow up on a farm but in the suburbs. I remember my sister, eleven years my senior, taking Dad’s shotgun to school for weapon safety classes. Could you imagine 30-40 kids keeping firearms in their lockers, then all of them marching down the hallway for 6th-period weapons instruction? Today, if a student points his finger at someone, pretending it is a gun, he would get suspended.
Most of us in those days had our first kiss in eighth or ninth grade; sadly, today, many lose their virginity about that time.
In my childhood, people used babysitters for the occasional night out. None of the kids on my block went to daycare or had a babysitter while both parents worked – all the moms stayed home.
I knew no one who was divorced. I will premise that last sentence with the fact that I was a kid and not privy to a lot of information about people’s marriage status, but the fact remains everyone I knew had both a man and a woman in the home.
We learned that gay meant happy from the Flintstone’s theme song – “We’ll have a gay ol’ time.”
Dad taught the kids to respect mom. If you disobeyed Mom, if you talked back to Mom, Dad would bring down swift punishment. The respect that dads instilled in boys for their mom and sisters was so strong that if you heard the words, “What did you say about my Mom?” on the playground, a fight usually followed.
I cannot count the number of times my Dad said to me, “You never hit a girl.”
I once thought I’d be clever and responded, “What if she has a gun?”
Dad emphasized his original point, “Then you turn around and run and hope she does not shoot you in the back.” He made his point – honor and cherish women.
Today, men show no respect for women when they use them sexually, skip town when a baby is on the way, hit them, speak down to them, refuse to provide basic needs, and do dozens of other things men do.
Did the negative side of all these things I have mentioned happen in decades past? Yes, sin has been with us since the Garden of Eden, but it was not as prevalent.
Why were children under ten years old allowed to run around the neighborhood? There was no fear of foul play.
How could three dozen kids show up to school with guns and the SWAT team not be called in? No one dreamed these teenagers would shoot anyone, let alone a dozen other students and teachers. Could it be that the children of the sixties and seventies and earlier learned the value of life, were less selfish, and acted mature, therefore giving no cause to think that a gun in school would end in tragedy?
Many see those moms who stayed home and raised the kids during my childhood as having an almost slave status.
Raising the next generation is the most important job a person could have. When people started seeing raising kids as a second-rate life choice, kids became a lower priority in the grand scheme. As a nation, we kill children in the womb, then wonder how someone could have such a low respect for life when they walk into a building and start shooting.
Blaming mass shootings on guns and the mental health system is our way of preventing ourselves from looking in the mirror and realizing that we have changed our priorities, and thus, our society has changed. The 1a and 1b priorities of years gone by were God and family. As a society, God is no longer on the list of priorities, and family does not hold the status it once did, not even close.
How to fix it is obvious. The question is, will we fix it?
Sadly, we all know the answer to that question.
Preacher Tim Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Indiana. His weekly column “Preacher’s Point” may be found at: www.preacherspoint.wordpress.com