Whether we have become meaner as a whole, or that people have always been so and we just never knew it, we shall never know. How does one contrast the incomparable? What algorithm would be applied, which quantitative analysis, and how would a qualitative methodology of content-purity be administered? Parity of differentiation would destroy any meaningful application; for, the generational divide would question the relevance of any prior criteria applied, and the subjectivity of inherent bias as to the meaning of innately elastic words would undermine the entire format.
Is there a natural yearning for a bygone age — of romanticizing a time never quite existing, somewhat skewed, and forever filtered through the antiseptic memory edited by time, desire and the psychology of protective devotion? Do we selectively choose, whether unconsciously or with deliberative acuity, that which we want to preserve, like those museums housing reconstructed prehistoric beasts from mere fragments developed into an imaginative construct of creative fantasies? Yet, there are clearly narratives which have annotated a different mentality, a structure of a departed innocence portraying a pastoral purity forever vanquished by modernity of vacuity.
Mark Twain’s works surely provide evidence of it; although, one has to read his works of later years to recognize that even he succumbed to the cynicism of life’s undesired experiences. Look at the ending in Pudd’nhead Wilson; do any of the characters emerge victorious from the circumstances ascribed, or does the wheel of misfortune simply accept the inevitability of a world ensconced in the satire of fate as administered by gods who play with eternity and circumstances, like malevolent children with insects and matches?
Then, of course, there is Carl Sandburg’s depiction in, The Prairie Years — but does that not prove the point? Was it not merely a retrospective outlook of a selectively chosen era, characterized by age and want of holding on to yonder years forever lost and transcribed merely by an age of innocence never in existence but by device of mythologization (despite the ugliness of such a term)? Yet, whether of reality or of tricking one’s self by some repressed psychological device, the human need to retain and preserve that departed innocence of yonder years, is a reality which is part and parcel of the complexity inherent in the phenomenology of sanity.
This is important to consider, especially for the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who feels a sense of hopelessness and despondency, given the current situation of contending with a medical condition and where decisions concerning one’s future must be made. For, when a medical condition begins to intervene, and the Federal or Postal employee must consider the probability of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the “surface” issues that must be contended with — of the unpleasantness of the circumstances themselves; the hostility of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service; the medical inability and incapacity resulting from the illness or injury; all of these are mere “appearances” which conceal a more substantive undercurrent of “reality” imposed.
For, like the yearning for that departed innocence of yonder years, the truth of the matter is that all human beings seek for, and desire, a sign of kindness — that simple act that costs nothing, but encompasses an untold value of meaningful touch which feels for a brief moment the brush of an angel’s garment as it shuffles silently by, leaving the warmth and floral scent of a life worth living.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire