What changed in fifty years

I was thinking about the “Golden Rule” today, actually more of “What ever happened to it?” When I was growing up we learned the golden rule in school, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Not only did we learn it we lived it, well most of the time anyway. So what happened since those days when I was growing up until now? What changed?

Southbridge (MA) (Images of America)
Learn about my hometown
From Amazon
I grew up in the sixties, I came of age (high school and college) in the seventies, I guess you could say these were my formative years. I lived in a small town in central Massachusetts, not a small town like say Mayberry, (although my mother did live in Podunk for awhile, yes, there is such a place) at the time the population was about 18,000. It was a typical New England mill town, very neighborhood orientated. For example when I was born, I lived in the same neighborhood my father grew up in, in the house across the street, where my Grandfather, Uncle and Aunt lived. Next door in a duplex where two more uncles and their families lived. It was pretty much like this throughout town, so while you may not know everyone in town, you pretty much knew everyone in your neighborhood. We moved to a different neighborhood just before I started school, not far, but there was a different set of families and new friends.

The town had five neighborhood elementary schools, again, keeping everyone together. My father owned a grocery store, yes in the same neighborhood, my mother stayed home. So what did this all mean and what does it have to do with the “Golden Rule”? There was nowhere any of us kids could go where we weren’t known. Wherever we went there was someone watching out for us, not in a bad way, but to make sure nothing happened to us, and that we did nothing we shouldn’t have.

The point is if we did unto someone, something which we wouldn’t want done to us, it would not be long before it got back to our parents. But it was more than that. It was a way of life, a way which was different than now. A lot has changed since those carefree days of climbing trees and riding bikes. As I think back to those times, I realize there was quite a bit going on, things kids didn’t pay attention to, and maybe that’s why things changed.

Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (2nd Edition)
Learn about the Crisis
from Amazon
Those formative years for me included the Cuban Missile Crisis, although I didn’t know what was happening at the time, I do remember leaving school early on one of those October days, and after arriving home my mother was nervous and anxious but wouldn’t say why. I remember the day when John F. Kennedy was shot, and years later when people didn’t believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I grew up in the days when many of our elders thought it was entirely possible that faceless person in a windowless room would press a button and nuclear missiles would fly, ending the world. I grew up in a time when the nightly news would have the nightly body counts, usually over pictures of soldiers throwing hand grenades and firing rifles or more often than not, carrying someone on a stretcher. I grew up in a time when a President lied to us all on T.V. and resigned in disgrace.

Did these things change us? Is this what happened to my generation causing us to forget about the “Golden Rule”? Or perhaps it was something else? 

To be continued…
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