As you can imagine I’ve seen a great many changes over the years, it’s something that can’t be avoided when you have been around as long as I have!
I hear a lot of oldies moaning about their lot and saying how much better life was when we were young, but I think some of them are viewing the past through rose-tinted glasses.
Yes, life was different back then, and I think some aspects of the life we led were much better. The food was ‘clean’, you knew what you were eating, there was none of the additives that seem to be in everything these days.
I think there was a greater sense of community, you knew your neighbours and you knew you could rely on them in a crisis.
Generally I think the moral standards were higher than they are now, there was not the cases of child abuse we constantly hear about these days and for the most part marriage meant something, you took those vows seriously. Children were rarely born to single women. It was quite a scandal to have a child out of wedlock.
The main thing that I think has caused a deterioration in our lifestyles in the modern age is the lack of practical skills that people gain as they move through life. Most people see no need to be able to make things and repair things themselves.
Some things though are better these days. The amazing amount of labour saving devices is wonderful, things that took all day now take an hour.
The main reason for this is I think the fact that electricity is now in every home. I’ve heard say that if the electricity failed for any length of time that millions of people would die. I understand to a degree, modern medicine, for example, would be nigh on impossible without electricity. All the tests and the operations and the care we receive would stop for the most part and this alone would cause the death rate to go up, but there’s more to consider than just medical assistance. It would be a lack of skill that would cause the biggest die off.
People have become so reliant on the electricity supply that many would not be able to function without it, mainly due to not knowing how.
So few people knit their own sweaters, sharpen their own tools and make meals from scratch these days that I dread to think how they would cope with having to supply everything themselves, not just the simple things in the list above. Can you imagine some of the people you know having to wash sheets and blankets by hand with water fetched from a well or stream?
Can you imagine them having to grow their own foods, keep the soil healthy and butcher their own chickens? How about something simple like chopping enough wood to get the family through the winter? Most of the younger men in my family would struggle to walk a few miles let alone chop enough wood to fill the shed.
Society has become lazy and out of condition. Schools concentrate on computers instead of making sure kids can spell properly and cook a decent meal. Parents worry and fret about their next family holiday to some exotic beach as if their lives depend on it, but they don’t have enough food in the cupboard to get them through a major storm let alone a major disaster. They have become complacent. They assume that because everything is working today that it will be working tomorrow. One day they will have a big shock because they will flick the switch and nothing will happen.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love washing machines, and plastic food saver boxes, I love freezers and fabric softener and once in a while I really enjoy eating Kentuck Fried Chicken, but my life does not depend on these things.
At nearly 90 life would be very difficult without the conveniences of modern life and without electricity washing clothes and bed linen would be a nightmare but that’s where the difference in me and people like me, and the youngsters starts to show.
Edith and I have enough bed linen and towels that we would be able to go a considerable time without worrying about washing the big stuff we would find hard to handle. We have enough wood in the shed and the garage to last two winters, we have enough food to last the two of us possibly longer than I have left to live…and I have no intention of shuffling off just yet!
Between us, we have ample domestic skills such as knitting, crochet, sewing, rug making and repairing clothes etc. We are both capable cooks who have cooked on open fires and on range type wood burners. We know how to grow food and have done so for decades, yes advancing age means the garden would not be kept nearly so well as it would have been, and a good deal would never see the garden when the conservatory doubles as a very spacious greenhouse, but we have the skill and the experience to be able to adapt to our age, infirmities and environment.
Should there be any kind of situation where people are forced to be self-reliant I think many would sit there waiting for the TV to come back on rather than realising that they and their families are in trouble.
We need to be getting back to basics and teaching children how to mend things and how to make things as well as how to use a keyboard. A keyboard will not improve their lives in a dire situation, but being able to make a meal from very little or knowing what wood burns best may well assist them. They need to be taught, especially the city kids that cabbages don’t actually come from Asda and that milk came from the cow before Tesco’s got a hold of it.
They need to understand the food chain and how to keep soil healthy, they need to understand that there are other ways to get water that have nothing to do with turning on a tap. we need to re-teach them that activity is good and playing outside is normal. Humans were not designed to sit staring at a screen all day, and if that’s the way of the world right now then at least the parents should get the kids to research useful stuff instead of playing games all the time.
I have learnt so much since the children brought me the iPad. You can find out almost anything on the internet, and you can check up to see if what you have learnt is indeed correct. It’s like having all the libraries in the world right there in your living room. This gives the internet massive potential for getting people interested in skills they may not have thought about acquiring before, it may also encourage them to get out and have a go at whatever it is they are interested in.
If we continue down the path we are currently on we are going to end up with several generations of people who are incapable of carrying out the simplest of tasks, and in the long run, they and their families will suffer for it.
Well, that’s about it Dear. I’m sorry I waffled on a bit, but I really thing that if something happens that changes our way of life there will be chaos because the vast majority of people will have no idea what to do or how to move forward.
Self-reliance should be on every school timetable because one day, we will only have ourselves to rely on.