Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Always Look Back

As of March 15th this year, I will be turning 25. I will have been in this world, watching it evolve into what it is now, for a quarter of a century. Granted, that really isn't much time at all, especially when you consider that I wasn't even all that aware of the world outside of my daily grind for the first ~10 years of that existence. However, as I have watched, many things have become all too apparent to me.

Religious status has changed. When I first learned that there was such a thing as religion, it wasn't very hyped. I knew people had religions and that I did not. I figured I was beyond description, not falling under any category. Nothing was pushed onto me, nothing was forced, except God. As I grew older I began to understand why God was pushed onto me. I grew up in a Christian neighborhood. Not everyone had to say the pledge, though. If you wanted to, you could opt out, which I always did, at first because I am lazy but later because I didn't agree with pledging allegiance to anything I did not fully understand. I always stood to honor the flag, as I agreed with and understood the flag, but I did not pledge, even when it became an everyday thing in high school. These days, the pledge is mandatory. As I get older I'm noticing just how much having God on the money is noticeable. All kinds of religious folks are trying their best to squirm their way into my life. Religions are demanding, more and more, that they be treated as immune to more and more things. It's as if they want to rule over everyone. Any honesty with myself about my beliefs, accepting labels that were branded onto me, has lead to more hatred from others and they have sent that hatred toward me, as though it is their duty to do so as an American citizen. It is quite unsettling.

Small towns have changed. When I grew up in my small town, that's really what it was. I knew the neighbors well enough to play with them. School was full of nice people. Many times something would happen and I as well as my family and neighbors would be shocked by the event, and something would be done to prevent it from happening again. Sure, there were a few kooks, like any neighborhood has, but they didn't harm anyone. Small stores, run by families, were quite common, and known as the best place to get what you needed at a fair price. As I grew older I began to notice that various people started to become distant. It was like they didn't want to know each other anymore. At school more and more people would start to bully at every grade level, even the freshmen in high school were trying to bully people, older as well as younger, regardless of size. Anything that would happen would never get taken care of. In fact, the police have become the enemy to the honest person. The kooks now run the area, getting their way on everything, making normal people the kooks that don't get it. And all family runs stores are dying out and Wal*Mart is the best place to get the lowest prices on all things you don't even need made by a process you don't know, don't trust, and yet don't care about. Small towns as well as cities are all becoming worse, but nobody seems to notice.

Family values have changed. It used to be that the parents had the right to discipline their child however they saw fit. As long as the child wasn't severely harmed, physically or mentally, the parents were able to raise them freely. I know I was spanked a few times as a child, and I don't hate my parents for it at all. I needed to be put in my place and that's what was needed to do it, though only on rare occasions. Children in the area loved their parents and parents loved their children. A few sore words were passed around from time to time, but they quickly faded away. Any kind of parent was welcome, as long as the child was raised in a loving environment. As I grew older I noticed that parents have changed the most. They don't seem to care about their children anymore. They let them go off and do what they want, letting them make mistake after mistake, without letting them know it's a mistake. Parents are no longer allowed to discipline their children. When they try the child calls the police on them. Then, later in life, the parent will call the police on the child. The government has intervened with how children are raised, to the point where every child is to be pampered until they hit the cruel world they didn't know they were brought up in. As a result, children are being raised to hate their parents instead of love them, which causes them to hate their own children. And any parent that is "different" is shunned, and their life is made as hard as possible to try to get them to conform. None of this seems right.

I have changed. In the 25 years that I have lived on this planet, I've seen things, done things, experienced things, loved things, and lost things. I've lived what most might consider to be a full life, and I've only gone through a fourth of what I plan on living. As a child I was wide-eyed, loving the wonder that was the universe as I knew it. I was shy, which allowed me to sit back and watch how things worked. Then I would try them myself, when it applied, to learn fully what I had witnessed. Things that would get people into trouble, like drugs, alcohol, swearing, getting into fights, these things I avoided as much as possible. Things that would be rewarded, like good grades, intelligence, paying attention, peaceful solutions, these things I would apply to myself for my own betterment as well as the approval of my parents and teachers. As I grew older, the rewards and punishments changed. Suddenly those who were arrogant and obnoxious and did what they wanted got rewarded. Those with a lack of intelligence were pampered and those that worked hard were given all of the hard work. I learned not to try as hard, learned not to focus so much on good grades as getting by was sufficient. Instead of standing out as number one, I was taught to fall back and blend with the crowd. Normality was more important and being unique. Despite this, I have since noticed my shyness and have tried to prevent it. I am now quite outspoken about what I think and feel. I don't avoid conflicts unless there is a serious chance of harm. Although my intelligence has remained mostly the same, my wisdom has grown significantly. I have gained a defeatist personality, which I attempt to fight every day, but what I see around me makes it very difficult.

My eyes are still wide, but it is mostly with horror instead of wonder. I know I'm not the only person seeing this, but could I be the only person who sees all of this as a bad thing? I am still young, I still have many more years ahead of me, perhaps even more if science is allowed to advance, unhampered by the continuous march of religion. I am only one man. Despite what the fairytales say, one man cannot make a difference, not on his own. However, one man can get the ball rolling that will allow many other people to make a difference.

At this point I can only hope that my ball is not obstructed over time, and can continue to roll freely until things are set right again.

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