Thoughts by Richard Bleil
There is an old saying that goes, “Men marry women hoping they never change, but women marry men hoping they will.” I don’t know if there is truth to this or not, and if there is, there are almost always exceptions to any generality. My personal interpretation of this saying is that men hope their wives will always remain young, beautiful and sexually accessible, while women hope their husbands will give up their immaturity and grow up.
The reality is that we all change whether we like it or not. We get older, slower, and that sex drive that men find so precious will even slow down. For many of us, it’s a difficult transition. We want to remain young and vital and strong, but alas, not meant to be. But the changes that are truly fascinating are more than physical and hormone related.
As time moves on, I find my perspective changes are far more intriguing than anything to do with my body. Many years ago, a good friend of mine told me of the importance to keep an eye on the news. As an educated individual, he said, I am in a position of social leadership and therefore have the responsibility to be aware of world events. Because of him, and on his suggestion, I started reading the New York Times. Back then, it was a print newspaper. The internet was just starting to be developed. When newspapers transitioned to being available online, I expanded my reading. The New York Times was good for national news, and not bad at international, but I began reading more international and political news.
Today, a lot of people are getting news from social media sites as news stories are posted and reposted. The problem with that is that the stories people post are usually those that support their personal biases. Still, people are reading more than they used to which is a good thing. People are becoming more aware of political and world events, but there is also a lot of opinion influencing this news.
I find it intriguing to see news repeat itself. Mistakes of past presidential administrations are repeated, and the results are typically the same. A few years ago, a new series of tax breaks were passed supported by the new president and pushed through by his party. While the tax breaks were supposed to help many people (although most people ended up paying more in taxes), the biggest breaks were for the wealthy. The president insisted that this was not Reagan’s “Trickle Down” theory but repeated the claims that by giving breaks to the wealthy, the money will go back into the economy. Of course, that never happened as the wealthy used their breaks to horde more money and further the wealth gap.
More than seeing the interconnectedness of historical and current news, I find that my social conscious and understanding is expanding. I have been learning more of our past and the socioeconomic struggles of far too many of my brothers and sisters. I’ve become aware of my own shortcomings in knowledge of these problems, and my desire to do better, to expand my awareness has increased.
I’m not the person I was. I would like to think I’m better today than I have ever been, but to become better, it’s necessary to change. It’s a funny thing, though. According to the demographics, many white men in my age group are becoming increasingly conservative in their viewpoints. I find myself becoming more liberal myself. My views tend to align more closely with the younger generation, not because I want to be with the “younger crowd” though. Heck, there has even been a recent study that suggests that people in my age group are often “invisible” to the younger crowd. But the reality is that newer generations seem to be more aware of the inequities of our society, and more desirous of wanting to change those things. I’m increasingly ashamed of the inherent inequalities in what is supposed to be an enlightened society, and as such, have the same desires to change it.
In some ways, I’ve never changed. Since I was in middle school trying to get my family to stop making racist comments and jokes, I guess I’ve always been an advocate for equality. But my awareness has expanded. I’m seeing more cracks in the Liberty Bell than I had been previously aware. I have a couple of friends who periodically share these blogs, something of which I am quite proud. They are the kinds of men I aspire to be, with voices of reason, tolerance and intelligence. I tend to think of them as having always been as such, pillars of logic and social justice, but I know they’re not. Pillars don’t grow; they simply cannot change. Pillars stand, unchanged, inflexible, made of concrete and symbolic of strength until tremors come along causing them to crack and crumble. I would love to have known these men in their youth, to have seen how they have grown and changed over the years. One of the greatest examples of strength is actually the willow tree, with its long limbs, covered in leaves. It’s the flexibility that allows them to survive brutal rains, the roots that keep it grounded, and its ability to shed the leaves that no longer serve its purpose that give the tree its great strength and ability to withstand hurricanes that bring down mighty oaks. When I think of strength, these are the men I think of, and this is the image I have of them.