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Wishing upon a star

2006! IF you are reading this, you must have survived the latest spring into yet another new year. It seems like only yesterday that we heralded the new millennium, the dawn of the 21st century, a new beginning to ever changing times. Still, nothing is really different, except that six whole years have flown by without mortally wounding me – yet.

Have you made the usual resolutions only to find yourself making excuses for those little exceptions already? I haven’t. Well, maybe one – to try to put myself in other people’s shoes more often, consider their background and perspective before assuming a judgmental position and to give my fellow human beings more time, listen more closely rather than mentally rushing ahead of myself. Yes, that’s it.

Making up our minds to do or not to do something is one side of the coin – what we desire is another. A poll of more than 2,500 under 10s has shown that children’s values are changing – somewhat shockingly.

I remember one of the first things I pestered my parents for was a pet. I had a dog in my four-year-old mind and got a hamster instead. My little sister took exception at the little animal diverting attention away from her and threw a brick at it … with fatal consequences! Next up was a go-kart, later a bicycle. As I got older, I pined for a “Scalextric” motor racing circuit, a microscope and, finally, my perfect princess – a last and unfulfilled wish.  

Girls of my acquaintance started out with dolls and moved on to Black Beauty inspired ponies, perfume and clothes much too revealing for their tender years. Most of our childish, seemingly hopeless fantasies were, however, sooner or later turned into reality by our parents. What agonies do single mothers, favour seeking step-dads and other nuclear family providers undergo in today’s climate of television fuelled infant dreamscape?

Little boys and girls in the year AD2006 still have God at number 10 of the ‘best things in the world’ list, but, therefore, other ‘gods’ have taken over. Today’s top four are “money and getting rich”, “being famous”, “football” and “pop music”, the latter two merely complementing the first named.

Has life descended to the two dimensional cravings of becoming a Beckham or a Madonna? What has happened to Neil Armstrong, Albert Schweitzer, Florence Nightingale or Emily Pankhurst? God help us if the next generation is going to be populated by innumerable clones of Wayne Rooney or Paris Hilton, spawning something even worse, unimaginable in its mindless, materialistic banality.

Soul destroying numbness will descend over planet Earth, the clearly defined line between right and wrong will become increasingly blurred, gradually losing definition altogether. Ultimately, the privileged few will run out of thrills and pleasures purchasable with money, extremes will have become the norm, the ultimate “high” reached and left behind on the way to bleak oblivion. The remainder will still be chasing that Nirvana.

I know … I’m overstating the case just ever so slightly, but a situation such as the one creeping closer and closer, a social framework that no longer encompasses changing values, but dying ones, does not bode well for the future … their future.

I wonder sometimes – is it just me, or does every successive generation think along similar lines? Has it always been the case that the good old days were gilt-edged and that the young people of today have lost moral fibre? Partly, yes, but there is a limit to how far you can go, and I think we are reaching the end of the road. Thereafter, I fear a radical re-evaluation will occur, bringing with it a return to orthodox if not Calvinistic values. Already, all manner of religious sects offer refuge to those unable to make sense of the world today, enticing the mentally fragile into an existence equally removed from those things that should really matter.

But, before we get too downhearted, don’t worry – there is hope. More often that not, I do still come across kids and teenagers who give me the impression that their hearts and minds are in the right place. They make me glad and prove that polls and statistics do not always reveal the truth as it is. Speaking of which, those 2,500 odd under 10s also said that drunk people, smokers and litter bugs topped their “hate list”. War and bullies were not far behind. Somehow that paints a brighter picture of what may await us.

I want to close this opening episode of another year’s worth of very personal reflections with a cliché that nevertheless rings true, increasingly so as we get older. Mostly scoffed at when the mysteries of our world and adulthood still await us, the truth being the old maxim that the best things in life are free, or something of that ilk, becomes ever more apparent.

You can’t purchase your health in any shop I know, you can’t buy happiness or love as hard as some people may try and, without these vital ingredients, your life is worthless. On that note, I wish you, me and everyone a glowing 2006.  

P.S. Perfection is a state of mind, unique to each one of us.