Life is always full of change; however those alive today have seen perhaps much more than their fair share. Those who lived up to a certain point in time really did not see many significant changes in their world from birth until death. It is especially true when they are compared to those who lived from the beginning of the 20th Century forward. My grandparents, for instance, (all born between 1904 and 1913) saw the advent of automobiles, airplanes, radio, television, cable, air conditioning, chain restaurants, skyscrapers, the interstate system, indoor plumbing, refrigeration, washing machines and dryers, lawnmowers, tractors and combines, the calculator, microwave ovens, computers, the internet, cell phones, and much, much more. Imagine something as common to our lives today as pizza. My mom tells the story of the first time her parents saw pizza and made fun of her saying, they could not believe anyone would eat anything that looked like that. Just 50 years ago, pizza was a brand new introduction to most parts of the United States.
We all agree that many of the changes brought about by advances in medicine, technology, and other areas have made life better overall. However we have lost something along the way. Modern advances have given mankind a sort of pride in himself that reminds us of the Scriptural account of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. The sin in view there was mankind trying to go forward and make a mark on the world, or a name for himself, all-the-while leaving God out of the equation. This type of thinking continues in this modern “Babylon” that The Book of Revelation foreshadows being destroyed.
People were once very in touch with their roots and the realities of everyday life. They were reminded almost constantly that life was short, often hard, and relying solely on themselves was unwise. They instead leaned on family, neighbors, and prayed to God.
A century ago, the population of America was scattered throughout in small towns, mid-size towns, communities, farms, and comparatively speaking, not that many people lived their lives in the protective bubbles of the few major cities of the time, such as New York or Chicago. People were very much in touch with their agricultural heritage. Even those who worked in cities as bankers, lawyers, factory workers, dock workers, or various business owners, more likely than not, had roots on the farm from childhood or through other family ties. An agriculturally oriented life meant understanding very well the process that went from preparing ground, all the way to the harvest and eating of the food on the supper table. It meant praying for rain, or for the rain to stop. It meant very hard work done in primitive ways by today’s standards. It often meant very lean times financially.
For most everyone in times past there was complete understanding of the process of getting milk from a dairy cow to their table; or for getting steaks on the table by way of the beef cattle grazing on the range. But now, there is such a strong disassociation between rural life and city life that those living in cities often only understand lettuce, eggs, pork chops, watermelons, and potatoes in terms of their purchasing it in their grocery store. Never in their lives have they been a part of growing those things or understand the process, labor, and prayers involved.
Many of our politicians now have never had the grounding of such basic things as farm or ranch life to help them see that life is more grassroots than concrete, steal, and philosophical theories. So it is no wonder the massive divide grows in our nation.
When I was a boy, people everywhere laughed at the same things and cried at the same things. They had a much more shared sense of values and morality. It is illustrated by the types of television programing then and now. When I was growing up, no matter whether you watched the ABC, NBC, or CBS affiliate the shows were not much different from one another. They all offered game shows, soap operas, variety shows, sitcoms, dramas, local news, network news, etc. But now look at the massive differences. At any given hour I can choose between watching a raunchy reality show on VH1 or a show about agriculture on RFDTV. I can watch a documentary about the Amazon Rain forest on The National Geographic Network or 24 hour news coverage and commentary on either Fox News, CNN, or MSNBC. It is, in part, a testimony to our wealth. Our ancestors would not have had time to watch television, even if there were such a thing. They would have had too much work to do.
I am not condemning us for having the things we now have. Most everything can be used for the glory of God in some way, if we choose to do so. However, there are enormous dangers lurking for those who are prone to being distracted from what is important, such as God, His Word, His church, faith, family, community, love, marriage, parenting, learning, hard work, etc. These are the things that have made America great. These are also the same things that the Bible champions. We need to move back toward reliance on God and all the values that stem from having a personal relationship with Him like those who came before us. No matter who is running for office in this election year, if they do not get these things, they are living in a bubble and are out of touch with biblical reality.
Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor