It has been nearly 20 years since I graduated from high school in Cincinnati. Time has gone by. A couple of memories have struck a nerve in me in the wake of the recent and large scale crisis in the financial sector.
Ever heard of David Toma? He is a former undercover detective in New York City. The television show “Baretta” was based on his life. When I was in high school David Toma came to my school twice to talk about drug and alcohol abuse and its prevention and treatment in teenagers. It was a great event both times he came. There were two problems – his message just didn’t stick. The kids that were already hardcore into drinking and smoking pot continued to drink heavily and get stoned. The kids that were marginal drinkers and partiers, subsided for a period of several weeks, only to go back to the beginning of old habits in short order once Mr. Toma’s message wore off. The part of his message that struck me (as a non-drinker and non-smoker even to this day) was what Toma said was ailing our culture: a lack of patience. As he said, we want everything now – a nicer car, a bigger home, a new wife. And now it is even worse. There is more stuff to be had – the latest cell phone, the fastest computer, the biggest HD television.
Many of the homeowners who have found themselves in a tight spot with a large mortgage and a weak economy would’ve been better served to have stayed in the starter house for several more years and saved money to put toward the down payment of a larger home. But, nope. We want everything now. Credit was available with minimal effort. So, we could have it all now. At least temporarily. Did you ever drive around the suburbs and wonder who was moving into all the new houses that were being built? I know I did and I always wondered where all the houses were that people were moving out of.
One other thing about my high school, my class song from my graduating class was “Life’s Been Good” by Joe Walsh. The class officers, perhaps as a sign of their collective ignorance, mistakenly thought the song was by the Eagles. Umm. No. It was from Joe Walsh. It was on his solo album “But Seriously Folks”. Walsh was a member of the Eagles at the time and would perform the song with them during live performances, one of which was released as part of the “Eagles Live” album (“Hey man I’m freakin’ out!”). An honest mistake, perhaps. But, it showed a lack of knowledge and a lack of effort on their part to erroneously list the song as having been released by the Eagles.
I digress. My point is that most class songs have some sort of poignancy for things past or things to come. Like “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2 or “I’ll Remember You” by Skid Row. But my class chose a song that said, “Hey things are going well and they always will.” For my part, I wasn’t happy with the choice. Not much I could do about it. But, I thought it was wrong.
20 years ago, life was good. But we were spoiled and the things that made it so good for us – the hard work and frugality of our parents (my mom and dad lived in an apartment even after they had two kids) – were disregarded as we headed into the real world. And as David Toma stated, we wanted everything now. Nicer car, bigger home, new wife. We are reaping what we have sown. This problem was not created by a political party. It was created by the person looking back at you in the mirror.
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