Most of the time I like to have something to listen to while going about the daily household chores. If I am moving about between rooms, indoors and out, my choice is music. But if I am working on something that requires me to be fairly stationary, I like a good story for company. I have downloaded dozens of audio comedy and mystery books and a whole passel of old time radio shows. But I wanted something a bit different. I came across a YouTube channel where the author had uploaded an audio version of the Little House on the Prairie books. I had bought this series for my children when they were young, and I think I enjoyed reading them as much as the kids did. So far I have listened to three of them, and am starting on the fourth.
While listening to these stories written by the woman who lived them as a child, I am struck by the huge differences in the way people lived, then and now.
Those people grew their own vegetables. If they didn't, it would be a very long, cold winter without food. Even those who lived in towns planted vegetable gardens. The last time I rode the bus before the snow fell, I looked into all of the back yards I passed during that one hour ride, and I saw not even one garden spot. My son is probably the only one in his neighborhood who raises vegetables. In other cities, town councils punish those who have gardens in their yards instead of grass. What happened?
Those people abhorred the notion of being beholden to anyone. If they didn't have the cash, they didn't buy, but made do with what they had. Or they were more apt to trade work for the desired item. You went to help your neighbor roof his barn, and he came and helped you dig your well. It all worked out and nobody owed anybody anything. Today, we whip out the plastic and buy what we want - not just what we need. We wind up owing tens of thousands of dollars. And it doesn't seem to phase us one bit, because we keep on doing it. What happened?
Those people took care of their own. When someone came around with evil intent, if the family dog didn't chase him off, the homesteader did, usually with buckshot. I just read about a man who caught someone in his home, trying to steal his possessions. The homeowner pulled a gun and chased the burglar off. The police arrested the homeowner for having a gun. The burglar then sued the homeowner. What happened?
Those people had well mannered, well behaved children, for the most part. Children were taught to respect their elders. They were given chores to do and were expected to do them without complaint. If they disobeyed their parents, the quickly learned that actions have consequences. Children didn't need to be entertained. They made their own fun. The dipped their toes in the creek and hunted for minnows. They fished from the banks of the river. They went sliding down hills in wintertime, or skating across the surface of the frozen lake. They built forts in the woods or just layed on their backs in the grass and watched the clouds float by. They had all of nature for their playground. Today, kids aren't happy unless they are plugged into something, be it computer games or music or anything that requires a remote. And parents are quick to supply these diversions, for they act as babysitters. Or if a child is active, they are quickly medicated. What happened?
I think I know what happened, but some days I just find it too sad to even think about and other days I become angry thinking about what we have lost. I realize that the times I am talking about were well over 100 years ago. And I know that there are still good people out there with those same old-fashioned values. I just wish that there were more of us who cared about those values. I think then, our modern world would be a much nicer place to live.
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