In Search of Camelot
When did we lose our optimism as a nation? While Kennedy’s “Camelot” was before my time, his dream of global cooperation and American optimism has faded over the years.
In discussing his inaugural speech with my students I realize one 1) most of them have no idea who Kennedy was or what he did, 2) most have no idea of what’s been “lost” in terms of the American dream, and 3) most were left wondering why they had to read this particular assignment.
After all, they’ve grown up in a technological age, jaded by all the “stuff” we have without any thought of what life would be like without all our space age advances. They’ve never known war, or racism, or true poverty such as the Great Depression. With the changes in child labor laws most have never held a job until they are 18.
In spite of the “advances” of our time, we’ve lost most of the wide-eyed wonder and enthusiasm of preceding generations. We’ve lost the spark of exploration that drove men to the stars, funded research for new technology or innovations, and extended a hand of global cooperation.
I know things change, time stands still for no man, and both Kennedy and his world faced difficulties and ugliness. The reasons for our loss of enthusiasm and sense of adventure are innumerable and complex. We focus on the trivial and ignore the vital. We fight for frivolous and give up what is invaluable.
I don’t wish to return to the past, but I mourn for the next generation of children whose minds are molded by the inflexible, the limited, the self-centered–those who spurn truth and fear right.
I can only hope those children will look up at the stars and be inspired.