Point of No Return — It’s crazy out there, but it’s also pretty cool

Date Published: 
Jan. 19, 2018

Before we get started here, no matter what side of the political aisle you might find yourself on, this is by no means the “worst of times” for this nation.

We once had a civil war, remember? It was fought because one group of people owned another group of people. Justify it any way you want — state rights, regional pride, economic disadvantages, whatever —, the general foundation of the war that divided our nation was slavery. And that’s gross.

And we’re not quite there today. Sure, a look at the headlines from news outlets across these fruited plains might read like the lyrics to a Billy Joel song (“Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump, wily Russians, roasted rump. CNN, s*&#hole countries, the Mar-a-Lago. We didn’t start the fire...”). And there is a divide amongst both our elected officials and our general citizenry as cantankerous and absolute as there has been in generations.

But let’s not get overly dramatic concerning our current state of affairs. We’ve been much, much worse.

Now, that’s not to say that this isn’t a time that has reasonable-thinking people chewing at their fingernails. It feels as if we’re one bad Tweet away from nuclear armageddon, and we have people in California petitioning to divide the state, creating “New California” in the process.

There are protests and counterprotests, accusations of beloved personalities committing sexual assault and harrassment, distrust — and often burning hatred — of the media, mass-shootings and veterans taking their own lives or finding themselves without shelter because a nation that is so vocal in showing its support for them won’t do a damn thing to help them adjust to civilian life, and get a hold of the demons they brought back from whatever horrifying situation they were dropped into so the rest of us could sleep in comfort at night.

Rant over. I promise.

Our economy is, and has been for a few years, doing quite well. The military structure of ISIS appears to have been beaten down convincingly. There has not been a string of race-riots following the disgusting happenings in Charlottesville, as I had feared would take place. And, though many people disagree with how things were ultimately divvied up amongst the economic classes, most Americans are going to get some tax relief thanks to a new plan put into motion.

It might not be the best of times, but it’s certainly not the worst of times, either.

We live in an age of instant information and technological wizardry that would bedazzle those who came before us. Consider, if you will, some of the things we can do today that were not even imagined in decades passed:

• Google is a game-changer. Yes, Yahoo and other search engines came before Google and paved the way, but none of them made their way into the mobile world, and our pockets, as well as Google. We are always just moments away from chasing down a recipe, finding a score, seeing what stores have the merchandise we want or finding out who the leader is of any country we want to know. Google has also settled more than one barroom dispute, and instantly decided thousands of arguments between my father and myself regarding batting averages or Final Four appearances.

• Yeah, in hindsight, I should have probably led with the mobile phone. “Why don’t you go back and edit it,” you might ask. “Because it’s none of your business,” would be my snappy retort. The mobile device (I’ll include tablets in this since actually using the “phone” part of a phone is somewhat passé.) has changed the very way we live our lives. Get lost while driving down an unfamiliar road? Open your navigation app. Want to order a full set of silverware or a bounce house while sitting on the beach? Do it from your mobile device. Looking to go on a date with someone who may or may not turn out to be a serial killer? You guessed it. There’s an app for that!

• We got a microwave oven when I was a kid, and I can vividly remember my excited mother boasting about how she could cook a roast and four turkeys in about 11 minutes with this amazing new device. I don’t remember if she actually tried that stunt or not, but we used it a lot to defrost meat and warm up her tea in the afternoon. Now I have one in the kitchen to cook popcorn at night, so, yeah, that’s a pretty remarkable, and flexible, device.

• The television beat me to the world, as it was already poisoning young people’s minds long before I was born, but the advances in television viewing over the course of my lifetime have been staggering. My family’s living room television weighed approximately 13 tons and was the size of an adult Indian elephant, while featuring a screen that was about 6 inches wide. If the picture wasn’t clear, my father would have me balancing on one leg, standing on top of the dog, while I waved the antenna around the room until he could make out Archie Bunker’s face. And then I would stay there until he was ready to go to sleep. Now there’s cable programming, DVRs, satellites, Netflix, Hulu and various other streaming options. If you want to avoid your family or responsibilities, television is your answer.

• Though the Internet is visible in a few of the items already mentioned, it’s impossible to give it too much credit. We can meet people with similar interests from every corner of the world, monitor the locations of sexual predators in our communities, keep track of the behavior and practices of our elected politicians, provide us education on a plethora of subjects and gain us access to reruns of “Baywatch.”

It’s a magical time we live in. Embrace the now.