What will our grandchildren find hard to believe about our generation?
When I first started teaching it was perfectly permissible for people to smoke in public places. The faculty lounge at the Winnipeg school where I was a kindergarten teacher was usually blue with smoke. Sometimes the only seat empty at the table was across from a colleague who favored cigars. I’d eat my meal with tobacco smoke wafting over my food and into my nose and mouth. When I tell that story to the university education students I mentor now they find it almost impossible to believe. “Teachers smoked on the school grounds? Incredible!”
I was teaching a high school Sunday school class and shared a story with my students about how decades before our congregation went through the process of deciding whether we would allow divorced people to get married to their second spouse in our church. The adolescents in my class couldn’t believe the church they attended had once sanctioned divorced people who remarried. They were hard pressed to accept the fact our church members could have ever been so judgmental.
I remember reading the biography of Martin Luther King to a group of ten-year olds and they just couldn’t believe the story was true. “People were actually refused service at a restaurant because of the color of their skin?’ they asked. “Kids of different races went to separate schools and used their own drinking fountains and had special seats on a bus?” they questioned shaking their heads. They insisted the story must be fictional.
When I was a teenager I read one of my grandmother’s journals and discovered she had only been able to vote in an election for the first time when she was twenty-five years old because up until then women in Saskatchewan did not have the right to vote. I couldn’t believe it! I was even more shocked to find out that at the time of her wedding my grandmother was still considered her husband’s property, could not legally own property herself or earn her own income. Later she was not even considered the legal guardian of her children, my grandfather was. I was a young woman growing up at the height of the women’s liberation movement, and my grandmother’s lack of human rights seemed so unenlightened to me.
When I think of how ideas about what is right and wrong, what is acceptable and unacceptable, what is civilized and uncivilized have changed in just two generations I wonder sometimes what our grandchildren will find hard to believe about us.
Will it be that ……
people had books and magazines printed on actual paper
women did the majority of child care and housework
gay and lesbian couples didn’t have the right to be legally married and adopt children in some places
there were people who didn’t believe climate change was a real problem
animals were treated cruelly and not recognized as intelligent beings
there was a great disparity between rich and poor in the world instead of everyone sharing resources equally
private citizens were allowed to own guns
some people believed their religious faith was the only right and acceptable one
we used some of the earth’s precious resources to travel around the world simply for pleasure
What will our grandchildren find hard to believe about our generation? If we knew would we live our lives differently?
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