Is it all part of the dumbing of America, is it just because I'm an old man, or is it something else? It seems that lately, I am finding it increasingly difficult to discuss certain issues on a public forum with way too many young people.
Recently, I got into it with a young person (I'm guessing she is very young, compared to me) on a Facebook thread that started with someone's meme about how Andrew Jackson supposedly made a killing in real estate, and how he took advantage of many people, and had a lot to do with forcing the Cherokee from their homelands.
My initial comments pointed out that he was likely not the only one doing that sort of thing, but also tried to show how my generation was taught history based on what we knew about various historical happenings at that time (the 50's & the 60's). Specifically, I mentioned Columbus Day and how his place in history is now refuted. My statements had to do with the fact that we were not (in my opinion) taught necessarily to revere Columbus, but that the day itself (always observed on October 12th, by the way) served to remind us of the date when the New World was supposedly discovered.
This person got all hung up on a statement that Columbus did not discover anything because there were indigenous people already living here. And, then she went off on a rant about how Columbus murdered and enslaved many people and spread disease, which killed many more. And, then, of course she did bring it back to Jackson and how he was a slaver.
I tried to rein her in by pointing out that she had not even read what I posted, and that this is the sort of thing that causes so many social media disagreements. She was so intent on her point, that she ignored what I had to say.
I guess my point here is that I always thought that old people were accused of being stubborn, and of clinging to outmoded ideas or beliefs, and therefore impossible to talk to or to understand, and that may even be at least partially true. But, how about maybe young people are not taught any appreciation for history, or respect for their elders, who have really been there, and done all that? Why is it so hard for a young person to understand that we older folks were indeed taught differently? I can accept that Columbus may well have been responsible for all kinds of evil, and that Andrew Jackson was a slaver and may have benefitted financially from misdeeds and shenanigans.
But, I can also accept the historical reality that both of these people were considered to be of historical significance, and that both of these people were indeed of historical significance - even to those who now revile them.
I can also point out that certain days on the calendar from my youth were marked or even celebrated based on the information that we (and, generations before us) had available to us at the time. So, just because we no longer celebrate Columbus Day in the manner that we once did, does not mean that we were necessarily wrong! Likewise, I would submit that changing Memorial Day to a Monday holiday and changing Abraham Lincoln's birthday and George Washington's birthday from Feb. 12 and Feb. 22, to some arbitrary Monday holiday has changed these formally important days to something insignificant, and rather meaningless.
I think the tragedy is that young people cannot understand the significance of certain special days. I remember my mother telling us about May Day (May 1) and Arbor Day (now the last Friday in April, but traditionally a spring day for planting trees), and especially Memorial Day. You see, Memorial Day was always on May 30, and it also happened to coincide with my mother's birthday. But, she taught us that it had begun as a way to remember war dead, and the only reason we did not maintain a great degree of solemnity on that day was because it was her birthday. I remember we went out and picked wild flowers for her on May Day, because it was a day that had to do with the rites of spring, and we learned about the May Pole, and it was not until later in my life that I learned some of the special significance of this day, in relation to the Middle Ages.
My point is that we need to be able to see and acknowledge that times change, but in the long run, nothing really changes. And, yes, it does bother me very much that young people apparently have no respect for their elders.