What is wrong with people today?
In 1859, Charles Dickens basically asked the same question. However he did in a big way. You see, in the middle part of the 19th century Charles Dickens was on a roll. Some think that from 1859 to 1861, he produced two of his greatest works.
The first, written in 1859, was of course, “A Tale of Two Cities.” He followed up that work with “Great Expectations.”
Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” sold some 200 million copies. It’s the biggest selling novel in history. In 1859, Mr. Dickens penned the immortal words, “It is the best of times, and it is the worst of times.”
Now I am sure that many, like I, have read this great novel. You also might have read other works from Charles Dickens.
But OK C.O., what does the words of a great author have to do with modern-day affairs? I will attempt to satisfy your curiosity.
I somehow think that my old colleague, and my former English literature teacher Dick Blough, would love the comparison to today’s culture. As you may remember the “Two Cities” tale was written not only about the French Revolution, but it is also about “merry old England.”
Today we have a real dichotomy. The crux of the matter at hand today is that some people feel we have a rich aristocracy that will stop at nothing to gain fame, power and wealth. On the other hand, we seem to have a class of people that feel that they are impoverished. I would like to discuss both groups.
I grew up in a somewhat normal family. We lived in the Fountain Square area of Indianapolis. We were neither rich nor poor. We were typical middle class for that day.
My dad never graduated high school. My mom was pretty much a stay at home housewife. I had one older brother and two older sisters. My dad worked as a compositor. (He set type for a living, pre-computer days.) He worked his entire life in small print shops. He helped print such papers as the Indianapolis Star/News. In that era, the proud city of Indianapolis had three major newspapers. The other daily afternoon paper was called the Indianapolis Times. This was way before computers came in vogue. Mom would work at a few various retail outlets. Later, when most of us kids were well on the way “out of the nest,” she took on full-time jobs.
One thing that my mom and dad instilled in all of us kids was a thing called work ethic. Was there welfare and government entitlements back then? Oh, I am sure there was. Was there poverty? Of course, but the worst shame that one could bring upon your family was the crime of stealing. Why? Because if you wanted a new bike, a new car, a house, clothing and food, you worked for it.
If I would have been caught stealing from Spreen’s Market or Tuckers Drug store, I would not have to worry about the Indianapolis Police Department. I would have been worried about my mom and dad. Not because of the paddling that I would have received. No, I would have been mortified at the shame and embarrassment that I would bring on my family.
When did the United States go from a Proud Rich Nation to what we are today?
I submit it was during my generation. How did this happen? Sociologists, historians and a whole lot of people smarter than me would probably disagree with me. But in the words of Charles Dickens, I submit that I grew up “in the best of times and the worst of times.”
Now lest you think that I am the ‘ole geezer that tells this younger generation that I had only one pair of shoes, two shirts and two pair of trousers, and that I had to walk to school “uphill” 10 miles both ways, you would be wrong. But, the difference between those days and today is simply this: A person worked in order to acquire not only the necessities of life, but the houses, cars and other luxuries that one wanted.
Today, far too many able-bodied people are relying on the government for a handout.
Welfare is rampant. Drugs and crime are out of control. Respect and dignity for life and your fellow human being went out the window some time ago. America somehow lost its moral compass. We have kids having kids. These kids have no parenting skills whatsoever. The sad part is that we have lost a couple of generations. Unfortunately the government has made it easier to stay unemployed and draw welfare, rather than work.
Are the jobs out there? I submit there are. All one needs to do is to drive or walk up and down most streets in America to find them. Do the jobs pay $25 an hour to start? Most do not. But, there is an old saying that one must “pay their dues.”
So what is the answer? I will close with one thought: 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal the land.”
Reader, you can believe it or not. But I submit that what is wrong with people today is that America turned her back on God, and she needs to turn back.
The unfortunate thing is that my generation let it happen in a big way.
C.O. Montgomery of New Palestine is a former teacher and Sugar Creek Township trustee.