1980

I’m choosing the year 1980 for a reason. There were two landmark events in my life that took place that year. I learned how to swim. I discovered baseball. I was ten years old that summer. I owned a bicycle that I rode everywhere. It was definitely a simpler time than 2016. The times were more naive, especially for children. I don’t know about adults. I suspect they were more naive, too. In spite of the overwhelming array of technology that has been invented between then and now — yes, we really can talk into our watches! — I sometimes wonder if we have gotten dumber.

For example, in 1980, we all knew which bathroom to use. Now we have to pass legislation to tell people that men use the men’s room and women use the women’s room. Furthermore, you are said to be a bigot if you support such legislation.

Men married women. Women married men. Even ten year olds understood this.

I was in the fifth grade before I knew kids whose parents were divorced. This was a novelty to me.

It was around this time my father first let me fire a shotgun. It kicked so hard I ended up flat on my behind. I also had my own BB gun (much less kick). I never thought this was odd. Now you can’t even take toy guns or water guns to school. You could even get in trouble for pointing your finger like it’s a gun and pretending to shoot. (Ten year olds know that toy guns, water guns, and pointy fingers can’t harm anyone. Grown liberals do not seem to grasp this.)

We had fewer gun laws in 1980. Yet you never heard of shoot-em-ups taking place in schools or movie theaters.

There was a terrible heat wave in 1980. But as a ten year old with a bicycle and an ability to swim, I was impervious to the heat. It never occurred to us that the weather would become a political issue and that governments would draft legislation to control the world’s temperature. It was just the weather. There was nothing you could do about it. Nowadays the weather is very much a political issue, and vainglorious politicians tell us they can control the world’s temperature by passing legislation. Despite our new technology, there is still nothing you can do about the weather.

In 1980, I drank sugary beverages, ate fried foods, lathered butter on rolls and cornbread. No one knew what trans fats were. No one ever suggested the government should tell you what to eat. We ate pretty much what we wanted. We were quite active. Few of us children ever got fat.

I sometimes drank directly from a water hose.

We had hostages in Iran. We therefore considered Iran our enemy. No one ever wrung their hands and fretted over what we might have done to make the Iranians mad at us. Most of us wished President Carter had done more to try to rescue our hostages. Then we could have turned Tehran into a crater.

In the midst of this, we beat the USSR in hockey. We all stood a little taller that day.

You could talk about God pretty much everywhere. Not everyone went to church, but most of us did. It never occurred to us that God-talk might be unconstitutional.

Yet here we are in 2016. A man can decide he feels like a woman and use the female bathroom. It is legal for a man to marry a man and a woman to marry a woman. Westerners are routinely attacked by militant Islamists and leftists blame the victims. We are told by government and the First Lady to watch our sugars and our trans fats. You have to be careful when you mention God. And Democrats run for public office promising to change the weather back to what it was 50 or a hundred years ago.

I don’t know if we are smarter or dumber, but we sure have lost a great deal of common sense since 1980. I think I had a better grasp on reality as a ten year old than some adults do today.

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