In my last article about how life was so much better 40 years ago, I promised I would even things out and talk about how things have actually improved in the past few decades since I was a kid. (I don’t want anyone thinking I’m a crotchety old guy.)
So here goes — seven things that make life better now than “back in the good old days”:
1. Healthier choices in food.
Health food has become mainstream. You don’t have to go to some out of the way “health food shop” run by “hippies” to get what you need. All the main grocery chains now have entire sections dedicated just to non-GMO, organic food. “Free-range” is now part of our vocabulary. There are entire grocery chains that are dedicated only to offering food that is not loaded up with pesticides and hormones.
Even some restaurant chains (like Panera and Chipotle) make the effort to serve food that is entirely free of preservatives and other harmful additives. Businesses are doing this to respond to popular demand. More and more Americans desire natural foods that are a major part of the answer to the diseases they are constantly fighting.
Sadly, not enough Americans are ditching toxic fast food, but at least there is a good trend toward healthier options.
2. Online shopping.
This can cut either way, I know. I feel very sorry for businesses like Sears, J.C. Penney, and Kmart. I grew up with those brands. “Sears has everything!” went the commercial. My father was a Sears manager for almost 20 years. And who can forget the ubiquitous K-Mart “blue light specials” and “thank for shopping at Kmart”?
However, these companies have not kept up with the new phenomenon of online shopping. I did not think I would like it at first, but this old buzzard now knows how to navigate the Internet and get some great deals as well as any teenager with a credit card (well, almost). I don’t have to fight through traffic, I don’t have to fight for a spot in the parking lot, I don’t have to stand in line. I just click and buy and wait a few days and my package of goodies is at my door.
Magic. I still go shopping in malls, but not as much.
3. Advances in medical science.
I had quintuple bypass heart surgery almost six years ago. Medical science has continued to progress … to the point that my surgery was pretty much routine. Thank God! When they announced I would have to have it, we were all stunned, of course. No one thought for a second, however, that I would die. Such surgery has become commonplace, and in most cases about as close to “guaranteed success” as you can get.
Think about all the advances we’ve had in the past 40 years. In that time, the MRI was invented and it has been used all around the world. What an amazing machine! We have improvements in organ transplants and bionic limbs. We have seen advances in cancer treatment — so much so that if some cancers are discovered early enough the patient has great odds at surviving and beating it entirely.
What a breakthrough laparoscopic surgery is! Just 25 years ago, the standard surgery for something like appendicitis required quite a cut across the lower right quadrant of the torso and a recovery of two or three days in the hospital. Now, with laparoscopic surgery, they just poke two holes in you, yank that old appendix out, and you go home that afternoon! (You can tell I am not a medical doctor, but I have seen many patients go home the day of the surgery because of this wonderful treatment.)
4. Computer-generated graphics.
Remember the original Star Trek? I do. I loved it! I thought the coolest thing about the show was the opening scene when the Enterprise whooshed across the screen in one second!
Remember that scene in the original Star Wars (1977) when Han Solo put the Millennial Falcon in hyperdrive and all those stars just stretched and everyone in the audience just leaned back in their seats like gravity was actually sucking them backwards?
Man, that stuff just blew us away. However, all those special effects are kid stuff compared to what computer graphics can do today. In movies today you can see ancient cities like Rome or Athens look like they have been brought back to life, or entirely fictitious civilizations (as in Avatar) look like you could reach out and touch them.
What do you do when you don’t have enough soldiers in costumes to reenact a Napoleonic battle? You just use computer graphics and create a whole army of realistic soldiers to stand behind your actors. (Pretty soon maybe we won’t even need Hollywood actors!) Gone are the days when we saw Captain Kirk wrestling a guy dressed up in a dragon suit.
5. More media.
We used to have ONLY CBS, NBC, and ABC. That was it. Take it or leave it. The “big three” had a monopoly on the news and how they could mold it or manufacture it and serve it up to us. CNN entered the picture in the 1980s.
Today, we not only have Fox News and MSNBC joining the mainstream media, but we also have talk radio (most notably Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity). Through the Internet, we also have outlets such as CRTV, Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire, The Daily Beast, PJ Media (hooray!!!!), Steven Crowder’s website, POLITICO, The Hill, the whole span of social media, and pretty much every kind of journalistic outlet you can imagine (unless Google and Facebook censor you).
There are YouTube channels galore, and you can go to any kind of news source you want instantly. Tired of getting the same fake news every day from the same sources? There is an alternative media nowadays that did not exist 40 years ago. Even with certain tech giants pulling the plug on news outlets they deem unworthy, we still have a greater variety in media than we did a generation or two ago.
6. The Soviet Union is gone!
Think about that. If you’re having a really bad day, just remember how one of the most evil, murderous regimes in history collapsed on itself and bit the dust. That will make you smile.
One of the happiest days of my life was December 25, 1991. On the day that millions of Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the blood-soaked hammer and sickle of the USSR was hauled down over the Kremlin. I never … ever … thought I would live to see that day.
Man, when I was growing up, we were honestly scared to death of the Soviet Union. We thought they were going to win! Throughout the 1970s we saw the fall of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia. We saw nations in Africa taken over by Soviet allies (Ethiopia, Mozambique, Angola). Nicaragua was ruled by Soviet-backed communists. Then they invaded Afghanistan. It looked pretty grim forty years ago, didn’t it?
But the Soviet Union caved in on itself.
I know, I know … plenty of people will tell me that communism is making a comeback here in the U.S., and we have plenty of Leftist criminals in our government seemingly “getting away with it.” We also have other challenges from jihadists in our midst and narco-terrorists coming here from Latin America. Yes, these are some mighty serious things.
Just remember how the USSR was defeated, though. The way things are now, they won’t be this way forever. Just like the Soviet communists were swept away, so will the modern version be swept away in due time. I believe that right will prevail. Keep looking up, folks.
7. Instant communication.
Instant communication could go both ways too, couldn’t it? Sometimes I wonder if I’m too attached to my phone or iPad. I remember the olden days of rotary dial phones and long phone cords. (Now I see rotary dial phones in museums and my kids ask, “How do you dial on that thing, Daddy?”) If you dialed and no one was there to answer, all you got was a busy signal. There were no answering machines, no voicemail.
Today, however, I can call … and leave a message, or send a text! How convenient! I know that the text has been sent, and the person I sent it to will get back to me soon (hopefully).
With my phone, I have GPS. This has been such a help when navigating through unfamiliar cities. In the ancient world, we had to get out the big Rand McNally map and try to find the major roads in the cities. The GPS in my phone is so much easier.
Plus, I can call anybody I want whenever I want. I save so much time while driving now by making my calls on the way to or from work. If I have a question about some issue of the day, or if I just want to know the five-day forecast, I just type or speak into my phone and instantly there’s the answer! I love it!
The days of the Dick Tracy “two-way wrist TV” or the Star Trek “flip phone” are here! In fact, technology today has far surpassed what science fiction thought we would have by now. Here’s a great article about Star Trek gadgets that are no longer science fiction now.
Of course, there are plenty of problems with all this advancement in communication technology. People get too absorbed in their phones, people forget how to socialize, there are tracking devices in your phone — all those are legitimate concerns. I just thank God, however, that when there is an emergency, and I need to call the police or an ambulance, I can instantly get them on the phone I am carrying in my pocket.
Even with all this, I have barely scratched the surface. I could have talked about the great advances in automobiles or energy exploration or space exploration or the great abilities of the U.S. military. I could have given details on how crime has actually gone DOWN over the past few decades and we are actually safer (across the board), believe it or not. Maybe all that is for a future article.
Just look around and think about some of these great things that have happened, smile, and be grateful.