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There never was any 'simpler time'

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Julius Cavira, guest columnist

Back when my Asian and Latino friends and I were sporting mullets because we all idolized Hulk Hogan, MacGyver and Knight Rider, we were the kids who were “up to no good.” During all those years in school, when it came down to blaming somebody, we were the likely targets, and the only alibis we had were each other. We were the default suspects. From the schoolyard, to the teachers and eventually our parents, they would say … “Oh, those kids, they’re always up to no good”. The lesson learned: we hate ‘blanket statements.”

When someone states, “In the olden days, we acknowledge that we had an error in our thinking. In the olden days, we calmed down. In the olden days, we didn’t have mass murders. In the olden days, the folks whom we had a disagreement with often forgave us, often quite readily. ‘Hey, forget it,’ they’d say. ‘No sweat.’ Thus our anger dissipated.” (“‘Doubling down’ is reflection of the problem with politics,” July 25), it shows how forgetful we really are. A handful of us in this country may have had it good in the “olden days,” but life for the rest of us was never like it was on TV shows such as “Leave It To Beaver”, “Lassie” or “The Andy Griffith Show.”

In the 1950s there was McCarthyism. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi in 1964. In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated. From 1882-1968 in the U.S., there were an estimated 4,743 lynchings; 3,446 of those victims were black. Doctors once thought “wife beating” was therapeutic.

In Detroit in 1982, an Asian-American man was beaten to death because Japan had overtaken the U.S. in motor vehicle manufacturing. The Rodney King Riots were in 1992. The Oklahoma City bombing was in 1995. On Sept. 11, 2001 we all grieved. And it goes on and on and on.

The notion that older generations were better at handling disputes is a fiction. To say that any generation is better than another is hypocritical. If anything, many of today’s problems are carried over from the past. To address them, the whole nation must put aside our differences and work together, not as it might have been done in some idealized past, but in a way that will work for us today.

• After earning a bachelor’s degree, Julius Cavira volunteered with AmeriCorps, YMCA, Camphill Communities and finally enlisted in the U.S. Army (active duty) where he was deployed to Iraq twice, from 2004-05 and 2007-08. He was honorably discharged in 2009 and lives with his wife in Cedar Rapids.

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