Ramblings of a mad sensei
Were the old days the best days?
Insist it amazing how life just doesn’t turn out to be what we expect it to be. In Zen, one is taught to “accept not expect”: a concept practice by the Depression generation because they had no choice. They lived during tough times and learned at a young age not to expect anything to come easy. Because they accepted this fact, they became the greatest generation in history.
This being so, why is it that the offspring of that generation are so devoid of all their strengths and wonderful virtues. The people of that generation had character; they were hard working people; they loved their country and their families; and they had the drive to get ahead in life. They were frugal because they had worked so hard for what they got; nothing was handed to them. They took pride in what they did. This is why they became a success story; these were their strengths.
You would think that the following generation would mirror this great generation of people, yet it didn’t. Life just doesn’t always turn out to be what you expect. If the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, what happened here?
The Italians have a saying “too good is no good.” Was this the mistake? Did that great generation of people unwittingly make life too easy for their children, not wanting them to suffer and toil as they had? Were the consequences of this indulgence a generation of kids with a lack of character, work ethic and virtues? I don’t have the answers; I’m just sharing my thoughts.
I believe that what goes around comes back around. Good kids come from good parents, not low income or high income parents. I was born and raised in East Boston by a very strict single mom who physically chiseled me into the person I am today.
My friends and I had one thing in common; we were poor. Single parent families often generate less income. Some of us were worse off than others. We never bought real butter; the church would give us baskets of food. Sometimes we had to move in with relative to get by. One of my closest friends used an ironing board for a kitchen table. Another friend had one fork, one knife and one spoon when he got married.
What my friends and I had in common was a lack of money. What we did not always share were tough parents. The ones who lacked that are dead, or trapped by the hardships of life because they lacked the strengths and skills necessary to manage their lives. The boy who used an ironing board as a kitchen table later died of an overdose while the one with the single place setting when on to buy a home and send two children to college.
Back to my question. Were the old days the best days? Whatever society celebrates people will do. This one really scares me. Do we want to accept and practice in our society, behavior that never worked in the past? It’s true you know, that any culture that fails to learn from its past is doomed to repeat it. DiBiccari Sensei.