PERSONALLY SPEAKING: History shapes future

Personally Speaking | Sylvia Warner

As America and the world marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in recent days, I realized that we are rapidly approaching a time when no one will be alive who truly remembers from their own experience.

There have been many events in history that shaped our present and will impact our future, but nothing before the murder of JFK ever made it into our living rooms quite like that Nov. 22, 1963, horror.

Television was just outgrowing its infancy and entering its teen years, and for those of us now known as “Baby Boomers,” it put us right on the scene that terrible day. The sense of actually being present, including at the live-on-air killing of Kennedy’s accused killer, was truly the beginning of our sense of personal involvement in the making of history.

Now we live in a society where cell phones have practically become an extension of our own bodies. Facebook and many other social media tools keep us connected across the globe to happenings good and bad, large and small. We carry the Internet around hooked on our belts or waistbands, in pockets, tucked under our arms or in our purses, in almost every room in our homes and offices, and even on the dashboards of newer vehicles.

Today’s connected young people — and lots of we Baby Boomers too — are focused more on the here and now and learning less and less about our history. It is important to remember that our history has shaped our future. To go forward, we should know where we have been — as a world, as a nation, and as individuals.

That does not mean we need to live in the past, but without knowledge of the past we have no landmarks to guide us into our future. President Kennedy is quoted as saying: “Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past — let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”

Knowing our history is not about fixing blame but about learning from past events and understanding the circumstances that shaped them. Applying that knowledge to the present and the future can certainly give us a clearer road to success.


Technology changes our world

Speaking of technology and how it is changing our lives, I love that my list of Facebook friends includes folks from age 11 to 90-plus; my 5-year-old great-granddaughter began changing the videos in the DVD/VHS player at the age of 2 or 3 and now in kindergarten is already adept with an e-reader/tablet; my family and friends keep the texting program on my cell phone busy every day; and shopping, handicrafts and travel are much more accessible because I can go on-line from home or while traveling and get maps and directions, “clip” coupons, shop for sales, get free knit or crochet patterns, check the weather, or watch television shows I missed last night because of being out with friends or texting with family and friends. Quite a change from Paul Revere having to send messages by swinging a lantern from a church tower!

Sylvia Warner, former editor of The Daily News, worked for the Michigan Legislature and retired as press secretary for a U.S. Congressman.

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