As a baby boomer, I often wonder why I’m suddenly interested in history. I hated history class in both high school and college. Now, I can’t wait to go to Colonial Williamsburg, watch the history channel or visit Monticello. Anything nostalgic or retro is in. The 50’s furniture we grew to hate as teenagers is now affectionately called “mid century” style and very popular. Talk to any Baby Boomer guy and they will tell you they love to watch ‘American Pickers’ on the history channel. The two guys on this show, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz are the epitome of our generation. They look for anything old and nostalgic. When we watch this show, we see things from our childhood that flood our memories with an easier time, at least in our own mind. Maybe this is why I enjoy renovating things, be it an old home, car or old piece of machinery. Don’t get me wrong, I also love thinking about the future and all of the inventions that people are coming up with. It’s as if I have one hand in the past and one hand in the future with my body in the present. My two favorite places in Disneyworld are Epcot, where you can learn about nation’s history and Tomorrowland, where a child could dream of going into space and learning about all of the technologies that were emerging.
I’ve often threatened to buy a “mid century” home and totally furnish and decorate it in “mid century” style; I mean down to the old black and white TV’s with reruns of ‘I Love Lucy’ and ‘Leave it to Beaver’. Somehow, even though there were a lot of scary things going on in the 50’s like the cold war, as youngsters, we felt insulated. There weren’t reality TV shows and continuous news networks that bombarded us with more than we could handle. There were only 3 channels and the quality of the video wasn’t that good so that reality and fiction weren’t blurred as they are today.
We were told as kids that we could do anything. We were trying to figure out how to get men to the moon. Buck Rogers was the precursor to Star Trek. We were thinking of the future. That future included leaving our past behind. People were moving out of the city into the suburbs. We wanted the new ranch style homes. We didn’t want to live on the farm or in a row house. We wanted a 100 x 100 lot with an attached garage. Most families had only one car, a modest home and making a living wasn’t as hard. We were a more formal nation. We wore a coat and tie to the movies as well as on an “air”plane. I know there was social unrest and the past wasn’t as kind to many, but the present isn’t exactly kind to all of us either.
There is a saying that if we don’t remember our history, we are doomed to repeat it, both good and bad. Many of the books that my teachers tried to get me to read while I was in school, I now actually buy and read in my spare time! Talking to many of my peers, they say the same thing, they became interested in history over the past 10-15 years. Colonial Williamsburg is having a hard time staying afloat due to their attendance waning. The Rockefellers felt that our nation’s history was important enough to save, so they funded the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg.
I don’t know why I have become so nostalgic about the past. Maybe I see the unrest in our nation and the uncertainty of the present, wishing that I could somehow go back to what seemed like a more calmer period in our history. I know that I’m probably looking back through rose colored glasses, but let me continue to live in my memories, as memories can be changed to fit whatever we want to remember.
I’m interested to know if you find yourself more interested in history as you get older or is it just me and those in my circle.
There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow,
Shining at the end of every day.
There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow,
And tomorrow’s just a dream away.
Tomorrowland is a place that most of us know in Disneyland and Disneyworld. It’s also the name of a movie directed by Brad Bird. The story created by Damon Lindelof, Jeff Jensen and Brad Bird asks “What happened to our “anything’s possible” spirit?” The movie picks up where Tomorrowland at Disneyland left off. When Walt left this earth, man had not yet landed on the moon. We had passed through the Mercury and Gemini missions and were deep into the Apollo missions, yet we still had not reached the moon. Man was launched into space for the first time to orbit the earth in 1961. We landed on the moon in 1969, only 8 years after figuring out how to even get a man to orbit the earth, not bad for such a short time period. In 1964, I attended the NY World’s Fair. It was quite an experience. It sported all of the achievements and future hopes of what the world’s inventors, artists and businesses had accomplished up until that time as well as exhibits that teased us by showing what should be possible in the future. It was a great time of pride for our nation.
We were racing the Russians to the moon. The economy was growing and most families were able to survive by just one wage earner working; though there wasn’t much extra to spare. America wasn’t perfect, we had racial upheaval and growing pains that left a lot of scars, but there was hope, even in the midst of the conflict in Vietnam.
In regards to Disney’s Tomorrowland, Walt said,
“Tomorrow can be a wonderful age. Our scientists today are opening the doors of the Space Age to achievements that will benefit our children and generations to come. The Tomorrowland attractions in Epcot have been designed to give you an opportunity to participate in adventures that are a living blueprint of our future.”
Walt was very interested in the future. He was a man who didn’t understand the meaning of the word “can’t”. He was always asking “what if” which is probably why he built a Tomorrowland in the first place.
Brad Bird and his other two co-writers wanted to expand on this question. “What if there was another dimension where that world never stopped believing in “what if”. It is a story about people who keep “what if” alive in their hearts. Casey, played by Britt Robertson is a young student and daughter of a NASA engineer, Eddie Newton played by Tim McGraw. Casey has that type of “what if” spirit. She is chosen by Athena, played by Raffey Cassidy to return to the other dimension of our world to save their world by using her “what if” mentality to return them back to hope and world peace. Casey isn’t the first person who exhibited this hope, Frank Walker, played by George Clooney was a young boy that was chosen also by Athena, (an android human), but due to Frank’s discovering that the world was going to end and giving up hope, he was banished years ago from Tomorrowland (the other dimension of our world). Frank is bitter for having been banished, sitting in his dooms day room waiting for the 56 days left prior to the world ending as we know it. Athena has hope that Casey has enough of what Frank used to have, enough to save the world. Casey is led to Frank by Athena in order to use Frank’s knowledge to return to Tomorrowland.
I won’t spoil the end, in case you have never seen the movie. For some reason, I really like the spirit of this movie. We live in an era where wars, terrorism, social injustice and political upheaval seem to dominate our thinking more than “what if”. The protagonist David Nix, played by Hugh Laurie has some great lines below:
“Let’s imagine… if you glimpsed the future, you were frightened by what you saw, what would you do with that information? You would go to… the politicians, captains of industry? And how would you convince them? Data? Facts? Good luck! The only facts they won’t challenge are the ones that keep the wheels greased and the dollars rolling in. But what if… what if there was a way of skipping the middle man and putting the critical news directly into everyone’s head? The probability of wide-spread annihilation kept going up. The only way to stop it was to show it. To scare people straight. Because, what reasonable human being wouldn’t be galvanized by the potential destruction of everything they’ve ever known or loved? To save civilization, I would show its collapse. But, how do you think this vision was received? How do you think people responded to the prospect of imminent doom? They gobbled it up like a chocolate eclair! They didn’t fear their demise, they re-packaged it. It could be enjoyed as video-games, as TV shows, books, movies, the entire world wholeheartedly embraced the apocalypse and sprinted towards it with gleeful abandon. Meanwhile, your Earth was crumbling all around you. You’ve got simultaneous epidemics of obesity and starvation. Explain that one! Bees and butterflies start to disappear, the glaciers melt, algae blooms. All around you the coal mine canaries are dropping dead and you won’t take the hint! In every moment there’s the possibility of a better future, but you people won’t believe it. And because you won’t believe it you won’t do what is necessary to make it a reality. So, you dwell on this terrible future. You resign yourselves to it for one reason, because *that* future does not ask anything of you today. So yes, we saw the iceberg and warned the Titanic. But you all just steered for it anyway, full steam ahead. Why? Because you want to sink! You gave up! That’s not the monitor’s fault. That’s yours.”
So, I have a question for all of us, do we want to sink? Have we given up? Is it easier to not resist and to do nothing than to change our world? I for one, choose not to give up. What have we been doing since 1969 when we landed on the moon? It’s as if we won the Olympic Gold medal and now were ready to live the easy life and sign on to all of the corporate sponsorships, no more training and working for that gold medal. As Peter Thiel said so succinctly, “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.” Big whoop! Our dreams have shrunk. Who cares about another new Iphone or Windows update. We need big dreams! Maybe it’s because we have put God in the attic of our world home. I believe that God put those big dreams in our heads, or at least gave us the brainpower to figure it out. Now our nation is into political correctness. You can’t even mention God without getting in to trouble in our schools or government. What do you think that God is thinking when we say as a nation, “Sorry God, we don’t really want you involved anymore. Life is too complicated, you wouldn’t understand.” Well, God isn’t pushy. He will simply say. “Ok, I will let you be.” Many of you reading may be saying, “Oh brother, here is some guy pushing religion on me.” Actually I am not. I’m just putting that thought out there. Is it possible that all of these inventions and accomplishments in the 60’s weren’t 100% dreamed up just by ourselves? I don’t know about you, but I need all of the help that I can get! Our world needs all the help it can get.
If we believe that tomorrow can be better than today, that is a good place to start. If we believe that things will never improve, then we have thrown in the towel. It’s easy to throw in the towel. It doesn’t require anything of us. In the movie Tomorrowland, there is a story that Casey shares, a take off on the Native American Cherokee proverb: “There are two wolves and they are always fighting. One is darkness and despair. The other is light and hope. Which wolf wins? ……Whichever one you feed.”
Which wolf will you feed today?