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Monday, November 06, 2006

Adapting to Change

I used to think a lot about how much change has occurred over the course of my grandparents’ lifetime. One set of my grandparents were born in 1913 and 1915—before the roaring twenties, before the depression, long before World War II (actually they were born during World War I), and before television.

By the time my grandma died in 2002, the United States had gone to war many more times—using technology that probably wasn’t even dreamed about when she was born. And not only did she come to love her television, but she also learned how to work a VCR and for a while, she even had a cell phone. In her lifetime, she went from living in a small town in the country—and being virtually cut off from the outside world except for a radio, to having information at her fingertips on demand and being able to talk to anybody she chose to on the telephone whenever she wanted.

I’ve often thought that I’m glad that I wasn’t born during that era because I’m not so sure I would have adapted very well. But over the weekend, my friends and I had an interesting conversation. One of my friends recounted the story of being roughed up by a nun for lying about having his homework done when he was in grade school. I added that I could remember when our gym teacher in junior high school used to bring out (and use!) the big wooden paddle any time somebody skipped a shower. I can’t imagine either circumstance being allowed or tolerated today.

The world has changed a lot since I was born. I was born before cable television, before cell phones, before CDs, before the Internet became available to the public, and long before nearly every household had a personal computer. I was also born before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, and right in the middle of the civil rights and “free love” movements. I was born when it was relatively safe to allow your children to play with friends in the neighborhood park for hours on end, unsupervised, until the street lights came on.

Even though the world may have experienced more change during my grandparents’ lifetimes than in my own, the conversation I had with friends over the weekend helped me to see that each generation faces their own huge changes. And somehow, most of the people in each respective generation finds a way to adapt, cope, and sometimes even thrive. God made humans to be resilient creatures, didn’t he?


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