Not All Kinds Of Change Are A Good Idea
Every candidate for every office jumps on the word "change." The obvious inference is that things are terrible and only change will make it right.
To paraphrase a song from "Porgy and Bess," that ain't necessarily so. I am not of the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" school, but change and new are not always improvements.
I remember television when it was all black-and-white. This was back in the days when Father knew best and Fred MacMurray taught his kids how to be good citizens. Today, most of those old TV shows would look quite dated, but in their time, they offered us a peek at how good life could be.
Compare them with the current crop that spews forth foul language and pretends that we are voyeurs who like to watch simulated sex, and I'm willing to go back to black-and-white.
Each broadcasting company had a form of a stylebook, much as newspapers do today. Posted on bulletin boards were pronunciation guides. Sometimes they changed, but there was always conformity. I can recall CBS edicting that "junta" would be pronounced "hunta," only to change its mind a week later and decide that the "j" should be pronounced, as it is in "jump."
In our enlightened age, we run roughshod over "status," "data," "Caribbean" and "Saudi Arabia" until no one knows how they should be said. And forget about the letter "g" that used to belong on the end of words ending in "ing." Sorry. These changes are not "cool." They are simply sloppy and amateur.
The changes proposed by politicians are the real scary kind. They are, of course, not really changes but simply reincarnations of things tried before - many of which should have been buried deep in oblivion. These are the changes that must make us wary, especially the current crop.
The law, in those bygone days, was a respected profession, and lawyers never advertised on television. Contrast that with the raft of pitches we get daily, inviting us to skip paying our bills and sue somebody. Prescription drug decisions were left to the doctors. Today, the hustlers from the pharmacy companies drum their products into our senses ad nauseam. Listen carefully as they gloss over the sad side effects that include (whisper this) death.
To be fair, some things have changed for the better. People on stage don't sing as well as they did before microphones were tacked on them, but dance has become elevated beyond Agnes de Mille's wildest dreams. Ice-skating is also far better than when Sonja Henie did little more than run across the ice and spin around. Cars are really improved, although they are so complicated that the old days of the teenager tinkering with them are now impossible.
Computers give individuals more power than we once thought possible. They are near-miracles. And so is the Internet with its open doors to the world of communication and knowledge. Maybe that is why the current generation is beginning to shine so brightly.
Twelve-year-olds can beat me to a pulp in front of a computer. And despite the World War II generation being heralded as "the greatest," today's all-volunteer service people can give them a real run for their money.
Some things we should never change: freedom, the pursuit of happiness, the individualism that has made us a great nation, the honor, loyalty and patriotism instilled in us by our Founding Fathers. Tomorrow is Flag Day. There are some who look down on public displays of patriotism. They oppose "flag-waving." But there is nothing wrong with taking a pro-U.S.A. stance. (Take note, Barack Obama.)
Perhaps Irving Berlin said it best. Berlin was an immigrant who never lost his love for his adopted nation. He gave us "White Christmas," "Easter Parade" and "God Bless America." In a musical called "Mr. President," he wrote a song about patriotism. It ended like this:
"If this is flag-waving, flag-waving,
"Do you know of a better flag to wave?"
Allan Jefferys, a former New York theater critic and newsman, lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at -firstname.lastname@example.org.
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