The weather in Rose Hill, on March 22, 2010, was warmer than normal, with a high of 65 degrees during the day and a night of 51. Those born in , , and , were turning 25, 50, 75, and 100 respectively. Those of you who could remember what it was like to hear news on the radio and see cars begin to populate our roads, and then lived to relive our flag being placed on the moon via YouTube replays, would have witnessed the greatest 100 years of change this globe has ever experienced. But what has it profited us?
In 2010, there were 6.91 billion of us on the planet, 311 million in the USA, and approximately 16,000 of us in the Rose Hill area. We were paying over seven times what we paid in 1985 for that same house in Clermont and we were used to paying over $3 for gas, $10 for a movie, and $7 for a single McDonald’s meal. We worked a 40-hour week to make a living and were more productive than almost any time in our nation’s history—but it took two of us working to reach the average household income of $61, 355 (latest available US Census Bureau figures, 2007).
For the first time in our 100-year inventory, even when doubling the number of household wage earners, we had actually lost ground economically. We were not only not keeping up with prior generations, we were actually going backwards, and doing so on many fronts. We had allowed national elections not determined by the people to stand, we were attacked at home by foreign terrorists while being the globe’s only superpower, and we participated in the 16th UN Climate Change Summit while being the only nation arguing about whether there really was such change.
As a nation, if not as united citizens, we weathered Katrina, Deepwater Horizon, economy-ravaging financial crises, and government trillion dollar deficits coming and surpluses going. But many could not help but experience each occurrence first from their own divisive-agenda-serving political perspective. We increasingly battled each other over the relative “values” behind every social, economic, and political issue on our national agenda. Meanwhile, as we all misspent our energy, all around us the rules to the game of our own welfare were being changed right under our noses.
Yet, around the globe, our way of life, as often envied as reviled, is still the model others aspire to. Our advances in science and technology, for instance, feed the fledgling movements we now watch take root in other nations. And at times, their newly found awareness reflects us back, allowing us to see ourselves differently. One thing we have begun to see reflected is that our deeply ingrained can-do attitude can move more than mountains, it can move minds; and ours, mercifully, are beginning to stir.
In 1985, a deep cultural vein had been tapped by Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the film remained a perennial cable television offering since, aired at least monthly to this day. In contrast to Ferris, Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist today has a Barnes & Noble sales rank of 124,834, well behind quite a few of the newest-fad self help books. We walked right into that buried statue still looking backwards and it has taken us far too long to reconcile to that reality. But now that we have identified the enemy what do we do about…ourselves?
It seems many of us are awakening from a long slumber to realize the world changed while we remained the same. Fortunately, some local neighbors woke up a little sooner and began to roll up their sleeves. In towns, big and small, throughout this country, we are jointly valuing our communities anew, realizing, as we actually try to connect with one another, how much more we have in common than what we may have thought kept us apart. Realizing how much better we can each be if we but watch each other’s backs.
We are beginning to use those same technological advances others have marveled at to bring ourselves together in communities without borders, inclusive communities of kindred spirits we might have first found on the other side of our continent, or on another one altogether, but that we had yet to realize also lived around the corner. In so doing, we are, if slowly, awakening both the potential of those now inspired single souls and the awesome power of their collective drive.
It's time—let’s answer that bell.