“It ain’t the same.” How often do we hear—or think—that phrase? We as parents and grandparents often have a hard time understanding how much the world has changed.
Our recent family vacation reminded me of this truth. In order to take pictures when I was growing up, we had to load a camera with film. If you ever had to perform this task, you remember the challenge. You set one roller into the prong on one side of the camera, stretched the film across the back and inserted it into the slotted take up reel on the other side. Next, you closed the camera and turned the knob after every picture until all the exposed film reached the other side. Sometimes the film came unraveled and light seeped in around the edges. After you finished the roll, you placed the film in a special envelope and sent it to be developed. Several weeks later, you received your prints and sat around admiring and reminiscing.
Then came one-hour photo processing. You could drop off your film and return an hour later to pick up the finished prints. Today, my sons practice what we call “instant reminiscing.” They click their digital cameras and immediately look to see if the picture is any good. These pictures are almost never made into prints. We’ve lost the art of spending an evening boring our friends or family with fuzzy images of the memories made together.
Cultures are melting, distances are shrinking, and we all suffer from information overload. We witnessed the war in Iraq by following the embedded reporters as they traveled along with the troops. All this news kept us on the edge of our seats, eager for more information. But many of you still remember going to the local theater and watching the newsreel before the movie was shown. Back then, information came slowly and in small doses. Those days are long gone.
As I listen to my senior adult friends, I can only imagine how much the world has changed since they were born. But how much will it change for my children, grandchildren or even . . . me? After all, I nearly had a nervous breakdown trying to learn to turn on a computer, program the VCR and operate a microwave all in the same year.
One short century ago, only 14 percent of the homes in the United States had a bathtub. Only 8 percent had a telephone, and a three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost $11. There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads. Ninety-five percent of all births took place at home. The average wage was 22 cents an hour, and the average worker made between $200-$400 per year. Most women washed their hair once a month and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo. Marijuana, heroin and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores. One pharmacist said, “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and the bowels and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.” This is what so many people call the good old days?
Experts tell us all the information in the world doubles every 18 months. In other words, month-old news is . . . ancient history. If we divided this year’s new information between every human being on the planet, it would come to 250 megabytes per person (You might want to ask your child what a megabyte is and why 250 of them is a lot).
So how do you teach children to live in this ever-changing world? Just as the embedded news reporters bring us their version of truth from the front lines, your children need the person of truth, Jesus, embedded in their lives. That way, everything that happens will be filtered through . . . Him. Jesus told us, “Do not be anxious for your life . . . your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself” (Matthew 6:24-34). The future can only be interpreted by the one who is embedded in the tomorrow . . . Jesus.
If I ever have any grandchildren, I can imagine telling them about the good old days “when Grandpa could only drive 70 miles per hour, gasoline only cost $2.39 a gallon and a Big Mac cost $1.80.” And to make sure they feel really sorry for me, I will remind them the width of my television screen was only 37 inches. That’s when they’ll tell me . . . it ain’t the same.