And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. – Ecclesiastes 1:13a
It was 50 years ago this summer that I had a life-changing experience with God. Over the course of just a few days (July 1-3, 1970) my life took a turn from which it has never turned back. Lately I have been thinking on these 50 years and what I have observed. Here are some changes I have seen…
Cars. Well, of course I would need to mention cars! How well I recall there being a time when it was not that unusual to see someone on the side of the road fixing a flat. Or how about seeing thick white smoke come out the exhaust pipe of a car or truck? Or I can recall stepping on the gas pedal only to have the car basically die – and sometimes even in an intersection. The old line is "they don't make cars like they used to" and the truth is that we should be glad for that. But, old or new, I still like them.
Foul Language. When I was in college I worked for a swimming pool company (doing installation, maintenance, etc). I worked with some pretty rough men whose speech was quite vulgar. But even then, it did not compare with how people are speaking today. Based upon modern film one would think that even back in the 1960s people used the "f word" in nearly every sentence and that simply is not true. If the use of vulgar language reveals a person's inability to speak intelligently, then, as a society, we are becoming verbal morons.
Medicine. There are continuous debates about whether the world is getting better or worse. For all the moral decline one might note the technological advances have been amazing. And while one might initially think in terms of advances in communication (televisions, cell phones, computers) the medical advances of the past 50 years are even more amazing. What would have easily killed someone 50 years ago is now routinely repaired. What was major surgery is now considered routine or even minor surgery. The likelihood that you may live into your 90s or even past 100 is now more than just possible. It is probable (so you better be financially planning in that regard!)
Crowds. It was 50 years ago next month that I traveled to France, Italy, Greece and Israel. It was my first overseas experience. While in Paris, I went to the Louvre Museum and there saw the famed Mona Lisa painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. I stood, nearly by myself, only a few feet from that (small) painting. When Ruth and I were at that same museum this past September, the line to even get a glimpse of the painting was 2 hours long. This is reflective of the overall increase in world population (and affluency)
The Family. Sex outside of marriage is now the norm; pregnancy outside of marriage is more common (in some parts of American culture) than a pregnancy to a married couple. And 50 years ago homosexuality was studied under Abnormal Psychology and someone seeking a sex change was definitely considered to be in need of counseling. "Tolerance" gave way to "acceptance" which has now given way to a whole-hearted embracing and even espousing of that which was at one time considered perverse.
Spiritual Hunger. When, in 1970, I got right with God, the spiritual atmosphere in our nation was at a heightened place. The Jesus People/Jesus Freaks (former hippies) were frequently observed passing out Christian literature, often right next to the Hare Krishnas or the Moonies (followers of Sun Myung Moon) who were passing out their literature as well. There was a spiritual fervency among the young people in America. Today that is not often seen, or at least not reported on as it was 50 years ago.