Like timing in athletics, so perspective in life is the clue to good performance. And one is about as difficult to get as the other. It is not hard to remember how one resented the “old folks” who were always so sure that things were never so good as they were in the good old days. But now that I am joining the ranks of the old folks I am reaching the same kind of conclusion. Then of course, I am nagged with the question of how good things really used to be.
All this is brought on by student riots in the streets of Paris and Berkeley, labor upheavals in all parts of the globe, emerging nations struggling for recognition while they cut one another’s throats, and the general feeling that in this election year it is pretty hard to believe that there is any man around big enough to grasp the problems, let alone solve them.
There still remains, however, this question of perspective. It seems to me that I have often read of riots during the American Revolution, not to mention downright treason. There were draft riots during the American Civil War, and I suppose they would have burned a few draft cards if they had had any. No good government has ever come into being without a tremendous loss of life and property. Certainly a little perspective wouldn’t hurt.
But we are not helping ourselves very much if we rest content with the assertion that things are not as bad as they used to be, or at least are no worse. It seems to me that unless society is better than it was a century ago, unless young people are not only healthier but more stable than their parents, we are not getting anywhere.
The center of our problem seems to lie somewhere in the area of law and order versus freedom, or, in more extreme language, ...1
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