Why write this?
The author is in his middle seventies. The culture of his lifespan is collapsing all about him. The decades have marched by. After the war, the forties and fifties saw the end of the quiet, home town culture – the last days of Norman Rockwell and radio. By the time the author was ten, he no longer had to carry ashes from the basement furnace or empty the pan under the icebox. The telephone had five call letters and seldom rang.
Television had little to brag about early on; he did not realize how fine it became before expansion and capitalism began to whittle television down to the nothingness it is today. Today, the “best” shows are the ones that capture audience share – if only for a season or even one event. The unfathomable power of television to heal, educate, provide factual history and improve the human mind has disappeared. Only PBS holds down the fort – and just barely. Under the hands of entrepreneurs, quality is gone but the profits have soared. The TV cow is milked dry, replaced by a mechanical cow with artificial milk. Today, in 2014, broadcast television itself is under attack as entrepreneurs compete for profitable schemes similar to Netflix, ESPN, HULU, HBO and internet channels.
The sixties and seventies foretold the increasing conflict between government, business and citizenry. The Viet Nam War became an icon for an American society that was beginning to shred American gestalt into pieces divided along generational lines. Still, we were a conglomeration of equal, if conflicted, citizens until the Reagan years. Reagan opened the government to big money, corporatism and unbridled capitalism. It was no longer a government that belonged to the citizenry. The author still weeps at the resultant devastation that has made our government a mockery of democracy and a blatant, troublesome oligarchy. The movie that brought it all together was The Matrix. Individuals were nothing more than batteries in coffins – surviving only to make the powerful even more powerful.
What stopped working? How did greed and prejudice in all it manifestations take control? It was because no one is interested in reconciling the best solution with a larger ideal as a guide. The American society has lost its ethic. We are rootless with no means to set a standard for goodness, ethics, and morality – whatever word touches you as something that isn’t around anymore. Would Andy and his son Opie survive today? Or Pogo or Opus? Or Omnibus? What happened to news programs that were not required to be profit centers? No wonder the only news is sensationalist police chases, wars and murders with a bit of schmaltz thrown in for variety. What a different world it would be if government had not caved to the likes of Rupert Murdock.
One expects cultural change but not the slashing, manipulative and greedy bashing the American citizen has experienced in the last fifty years.
We must learn how to pursue oneness. We must learn how to build a positive gestalt just as a bricklayer lays brick – one at a time; one opportunity at a time; one commitment at a time – to oneness.
The question is this: Technology has obliterated the cultural foundation that began in 1890. What does the new foundation, including its ethical standards, look like? What will be right or wrong? What will be the standard for fairness?