Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Too Many Choices

Today was election day so after work I took a hike a few blocks up the street to the local polling place and "did my civic duty". It can be a daunting task to study the views and qualifications of each candidate in an attempt to to make an informed decision...beyond what little information is contained in their TV ads. Considering the relatively low percentage of Americans who vote these days, I wonder what fraction of that percentage actually takes the time to critically examine the candidates to make an informed decision.

Even beyond the political arena, our country has become one of many choices, very few of them any good.

Consider the following comparisons between when I was kid and now....

I grew up in a rather small town and now live in a medium-size city.

When I was a kid, you were either Catholic or some type of Protestant. (Or according to my Dad you were either a Catholic or were going to hell). There were no Jews, Mormons, Unitarians, Muslims, Wiccans and so on. For that matter there were no atheists either...that I know of. Now there are all kinds of churches, and their "salesmen" go door-to-door to pitch their respective religion.

There were 2 grocery stores in our town. My mother only ever shopped at one. To this day I have never been in the other one, nor do I think has my mother (83 and still going, God bless her!). There were no convenience stores either. Department stores?....had to go to "the city" There are nearly 10 supermarkets where I live now...or maybe more..think I quit counting.

There was one bank in town . Where I live now there is a bank at almost every intersection. (So many banks, but I've got no money to put in any of them!)

We got 3 TV stations....or fewer, depending on the weather. Now many of us get over 100 stations; but how often is there something on worth watching? There were equally few radio stations...but at least they played music you could listen to; not rap-crap or whatever else is on the airwaves.

There was one restaurant in town. Where I live now, there are almost as many restaurants as there are banks. Funny; they all seem to be full with waiting lines. Guess no one eats at home anymore. Which makes me wonder; who shops at all the supermarkets and what are they buying?

Most people lived in the same house and worked for the same employer from when they started working til they retired (then they still lived in the same house until they died). They also stayed with the same spouse from marriage til death. And no one "lived together". In the 27 years since I began my career I have lived in 6 different places within a 30-mile radius. Four of these were in the past 8 years. But at least during that time I have stayed with the same employer and for the past 19 years and 2 months I have been married to the same wife (we never "lived together" either...my nickname "Shack" has nothing to do with the phrase "shacking up").

The whole time I lived there (18+ years) I only remember there being one mayor and one police chief. They were related to each other as well as to more that half the other people in town, including my mother's family. Maybe they are still there. Speaking of being related, one of my cousins married my 7-th grade teacher. Two of my great-aunts were teachers at the high school. Another cousin was the assistant high-school principal. In 4th-year Spanish class, there were 10 kids including myself, two cousins and my girlfriend (whose mother and my mother were best friends when they were in high school).

So things were easier back then, at least in terms of making choices. Are we better off with all the choices we have now? I'm not really so sure. Maybe if we took the time to carefully study things so that we can make an informed decision, like we should do before voting. But who has time for that? What do you think? Just pick whoever's TV ad you like better, or whoever's name you can remember the easiest and go with it! Maybe that's why this country is in so much trouble.

So Sayeth The Shack


1 comment:

Jeni said...

I still live in one of those "itty bitty" towns ya know and we have fewer choices here today than we had when I was a kid! (In the village, that is.) Growing up, we had two general stores here, plus a post office -now we have none of those things. We do however still have the MOOSE and a local pub, plus a bar up along the highway and a restaurant there too. Only one church in the town now though -the Catholic Church - all the protestant churches have either consolidated or closed up. We do have other shopping fairly close - a grocery store (prices higher than high but saves gas so pick your evil there), a hardware store and a bank only 4 miles from here -as a kid, we had to travel at least 12 miles to go to a hardware store or the bank. But making decisions about politicians? I think the choices there are probably no more difficult today than they were when I was a kid! Which one do you believe is the most honest, will work the hardest, give you the smallest flim-flam job in essence - still a tough call isn't it?