‘The Times, They Are A-Changing’

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan’s hit, the title of today’s “Voice from the Bullpen,” and in the wake of some observations I’ve made and evaluated, those words speak of change, but have all changes been for the better?

It’s no secret times have changed. All we need do is look at lifestyles, technology, medicine, science, food, education, entertainment, athletics and other areas of life. Some questions should be pondered though, should things change just for the sake of change, or to feed egos, or to try and satisfy some at the expense of others?

I’ve previously spoken of technology and its many changes, and I’m finding technology very helpful, though still somewhat frustrating when my smart phone “tells” me something I don’t understand, or my computer does something I’m unfamiliar with while in use. All in all though, I’m getting comfortable with most of the technology I’m using. It does make life easier.

In areas of medicine, much has been done to enhance diagnosis, revolutionize surgeries, return sight, hearing, and life through transplants, artificial organs, etc., and replace lost limbs with working mechanical ones.

Let’s talk food … most everything today can be prepared in a flash. We live in an “instant” world. Many restaurants are “Fast Food” restaurants, many foods are microwavable, prepared food is delivered right to our doors. It makes life simpler, though it’s taken away some home-cooked family meals which were (and should be) important parts of family culture, so that one’s kind of 50-50.

Scientifically, we’ve been to the moon and back within the past 50 years. We’ve had people living in space for prolonged periods, we’re building and repairing using robotics. We’ve found medicines that will slow progressions of diseases, some that ease pain, some that help people feel better physically and mentally. How can that not be good? (There’s something about old home remedies, though, that many think were outrageous/outlandish, but seemed to work for some. Anyone ever eat Vick’s Vapo-Rub?)

Entertainment has changed considerably over time. Toys/games aren’t like they used to be (more video … less imagination). Much seems to be done with thumb pads and video screens. Much television and many movies are in HD, 3D and PIXAR animation. Subject matter in movies and television has become extremely graphic, bordering (crossing?) boundaries of good taste, decency and moral appropriateness.

As far as education and athletics are concerned, changes have been numerous, and here’s where I feel there’s been too much change just for the sake of change and to feed egos.

Nobody likes hearing of the days of Dick, Jane, Puff and Spot, of blackboards, erasers, purple-inked mimeographed papers, or reading, writing and ‘rithmetic. I went through K-9 school with upwards of 30 or more kids in my class yearly, all reading from the same book, doing the same math, practicing the same cursive writing, standing when principals entered the room, being disciplined when necessary (though not needed much because if we received discipline in school, we got even more when returning home).

Looking at my K-9 classes, a very high percentage of students, if not a hundred percent, graduated, and either went right into employment after high school, or went to college, and most have had very successful careers and lives. Not all achieved at the same rate, or had the same grades, but we were all prepared for life, a tribute to the educational system as it should be, and was, in those days. Grades were earned, not given, and certainly not negotiated. Standards were left high, not bars lowered. Evaluations of success included what could be learned through books, projects, tools, etc., not just what could be shown with a No. 2 pencil. The “Race to the Top” didn’t see every child reach the acme simultaneously, or sometimes even at all, but students were able to climb high enough to succeed in life. The possibility existed that a child might be left behind, but that child was left behind because they needed to be in the hopes they could be better with another year in that curricula. Today, might it be that some children left behind, choose to be left behind because of their lack of discipline, motivation, or a sense of apathy, and the confidence that someone is there to enable these things? Today’s thinking seems to be if one child’s destined to be left behind because of these things, then all children must slow down so everyone will be at the same place. Is that fair to those who can get to the top faster?

What about athletics? The prima donnas of professional and collegiate sports have been granted “God/Goddess” status. In some cases they pick their coaches, their teammates, have a say in too many of the things in which coaches/administrators should have that say, and receive smaller penalties for violations (i.e. Augusta) when others don’t get equal considerations. Some of this has filtered down to high schools and youth leagues, where better players sometimes get better “breaks” after violating team or school rules, and playing time is negotiated by players and/or parents.

Old time athletes had few, if any, guaranteed contracts, playing time or even jobs. There were things such as upheld suspensions/dismissals, and those in charge made and enforced rules … no questions asked. And today, we’ve given kids many more opportunities, than we had, which is great, but haven’s encouraged them to make choices rather than try to do everything, which is not always so good. Life is about making choices.

So yes, “the times, they are a-changing,” some for better, some for worse. I hope that all areas can make necessary changes for everyone’s betterment, not just for the sake of change itself, not made to feed egos, or show how good a person/school/team can look to the world.