Falling Arches Remind Of Permanence Of Change

Western Ag Vignettes

We leave lots of good stuff behind as we beat on into the tomorrow.

Published on: April 9, 2013

As we age, we see more of the icons of our younger years fade away, usually with melancholy, often with shock.

They're tearing down all the McDonald's arches and replacing the fast food joints with boxy, less nostalgic architecture. As a child laborer at one of the first of these iconic landmarks back in the '50s, I could never imagine a world without the Golden Arches.

But they've gone the way of Montgomery Wards, big fin Chevys, Greyhound busses for the most part, and free maps at the Shell station.

Change is inevitable, but that doesn't  mean I have to like it. In some of the things I grew up with, I found fading permanence. By now, I feel practically nothing would shock me, even the end of Rural Free Delivery and the newspaper by the stoop.

So, where do we find a lasting hitching post to which we can secure our society? Even those who say "family" and "love" have to admit to some pretty dramatic impacts on the old meanings of those institutions.

I hate to criticize the "new generation," mainly because it makes me look archaic and pitiful, particularly to the new wave of kids today. Yeah, I think the hours they spend on computer games and texting are wasting their days away, but then I remember Mom and Dad and they way they looked at me when I spend endless hours listening to Elvis 45 rpm records with my friends as we guzzled root beer and wolfed down Chef Boyardee pizza in someone's basement, or hung out the Dairy Queen drive in for unending hours just looking cool.

I think what helps me accept ceaseless change is that it has been encountered even before the monumental event of my own generation. While I may lament the passing of Twinkies and Orlon V-neck sweaters, people around before my parents were kids had trouble with the passing of horse-powered sleighs and sailing frigates.

It does seem that the further we dip back into the caldrons of history, however, that the pace of change slows markedly. Things remained the same longer, and people had more time to become accustomed to alterations in the fabric of their society.

No doubt things have speeded up remarkably in the past century in terms of change, a tribute perhaps to new science. What is troubling is how fast the pace will become in another generation or three, and if it quickens too fast, will we lose the foundations of security?

I think not, since we have always found a way to cope with change, regardless of its speed, and it is not unlikely we will see some new resilience to adapt to whatever the future holds.

So, debate not the teen twittering or what may become of marriage and home or faith. What becomes of our bedrock of beliefs, like granite, will be carved by the winds and floods of time.

I still think the arches and Twinkies are epic losses.