Friday, June 30, 2017

The Age of Wonder, Part II

The most visible signs of the Space Age, the Information Age, the Age of Aquarius and the Age of Other Cool Things Too Numerous To Mention were progress!

Human civilization was moving forward. In the aftermath of World War II, organizations and programs like the United Nations, UNICEF, Care, the Peace Corps and others were all working to bring the diverse people of the world together. As Disney’s dolls from the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair sickeningly but unmistakably harangued, “It’s a small world after all.”

Meanwhile, medical breakthroughs were being shared with the world, with global attempts to defeat malaria, cholera, diphtheria and other scourges.

The Space Age helped raise the awareness of science and technology, but government celebration of the arts also helped promote education in music, literature, visual and performing arts.

All this amounted to an Age of Optimism. World War II was behind us, and it seemed we had the power and the will to make the world a better place.

But somehow during the 1970’s, that will eroded. It was replaced by the conservative view that we’re here to look out for ourselves, and other people are simply not our problem. Maybe our disastrous experience in Vietnam convinced us just to mind our own business.

And since, we’ve been back and forth, ping-ponging between the competing visions: “America the bountiful” versus “America, land of the me and home of the craven.”

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