Modern History 1/31/19

By Richard E. Bleil, Ph.D.

This weekend as Superbowl Sunday. It’s my annual reminder that I am, in fact, older than the Superbowl. I’m not one to whine about my age (although I do enjoy poking fun of it). When I think about my past, I realize that I have seen some pretty amazing things.

I remember when Man first walked on the moon. I remember the fall of the Berlin wall, and the rock star that “scooped” all of the major news networks. I remember the first time the World Trade Center was bombed. I remember when the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan. I remember the end of the Vietnam War. I remember the Nixon impeachment.

I remember for two reasons. I paid attention, and I realized how important it is to be aware of the world around us. Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attack, our President decided to initiate a ground invasion of Afghanistan in search of the leader of Osama bin Laden. My friends argued that we would be in and out in a matter of months, but I recall when the Soviet Union pulled out of a ten year failed occupation of Afghanistan just twelve years earlier. Today, we are still involved in the longest war in US history, going on its eighteenth year. For comparison, this is longer than the fifteen year Lebanese civil war.

It’s sad that I’ve never had children. Frankly, I would truly enjoy the opportunity to have grandchildren ask me “What do you remember about…” This is one of those little treasures of life that many people will have an opportunity to enjoy, but, what will you say?

I had a blind date with a woman at one point that was, frankly, a horrible match. When you are still a single man of a certain age, people stop looking for a “good match” and start asking “who else do we know that’s single.” It’s a formula for disaster. In this case, she was a sports fanatic (which is a bad start, since all I know about sports is that you have nine innings to make ten yards to put the puck through the hoop while wearing spandex). I don’t mind sports fans, and recognize that I’m kind of an outcast of society because I am not, but I do believe that responsible citizens should have at least a cursory knowledge of current events. I asked her what she thought of ISIS, and had no idea of what I was asking.

This is strike two, and a clear indication that we did not belong together. No, I don’t believe she’s somehow less intelligent than I. After all, she could fill volumes of sports knowledge, so she is capable and intelligent. The problem is actually that, if we were together for any extended period of time, we would have nothing to discuss.

So, ask yourself, what will you say when your grandchild asks you what you remember of history? The reality is that we are in the midst of significant historical development right now. We have a president with allegations against him that. If true, they could lead to the first US president in history to face prison time, but even if he completes a second term, his presidency will still be extremely controversial worthy of remembering significant developments. If climate scientists are correct, we are about a decade from the “point of no return”, which, whether it comes to pass or not, is a debate worthy of comment. The debate of the “anti-vaxxers”, pitting parental rights against the health of the general public could shape policy for generations to come. It is very likely that we will see the first ever civilian space trips for customers.

As a blogger, these are the events that form the bread and butter of my work. As a human, these are the times that I want to remember, so I can watch for them to return in history, and to be able to discuss them with future generations affected by what we do today.

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