Do you remember the age of the innocence?
I do and it doesn't really seem so long ago and far away. Believe it or not, there was a time when a handshake was more reliable than any long-term contract and outside of love, forgiveness was the greatest quality a person could possess. Actually, the two go hand-in-hand.
Zero tolerance for crime and other socially unacceptable behavior was not something that was just talked about but was actually the policy of our judicial system. Crimes did not go unpunished and criminals were not able to negotiate their way out of a tough sentence with some slick lawyer. And they did not wind up back on the streets 15 minutes after they committed their crime.
Life was so much simpler when people were able to simply trust one another. I can remember when Dad entered agreements to have work done on the house just by shaking hands. There were no contracts to sign with small print to read.
Perhaps the age of the innocence seemed so innocent because I witnessed it through a child's perspective. My next-door neighbor and I were closer than any brother and sister could possibly be. We did almost everything together. There were days when we played together from nearly sunup to sundown.
There also were days we would play for a few minutes only to have a knock down, drag out disagreement. We frequently left each other's housing stating firmly, “I'm never going to play with you again,” or, “I never want to see you again.”
And for a few harrowing minutes, we truly meant it.
I would tell Mom what happened and she would politely tell me that I would be playing with her again before the end of the day. “Oh no I won't!” I firmly told her. “This time, I never want to see her again.”
Probably, less than an hour later I would literally beg Mom to let me go back and play again.
Oh why can't we be like children? They are so forgiving. One minute they are fighting like cats and dogs and the next minutes they are hugging each other.
Adults frequently hold grudges so long they cannot even remember why they got angry in the first place. In this day of high tech communication, people seem more and more determined to spread venom and hate. People are entirely too concerned with getting revenge rather than getting an issue settled or resolved.
Trust also seems to be a forgotten issue. Mom and Dad frequently brought groceries on their “tab” at the local grocery store. Why was this possible? Because the storeowner trusted them and knew they would pay their bill.
One of my first encounters with trust came on one of my first trek to the barbershop with just my brother. Dad entrusted us with a dollar bill to cover the cost of the haircuts – they were 50 cents apiece. I asked Mike if I could carry the dollar.
Page 2 of 2 - I climbed proudly into the barber's chair and told the barber that Dad let Mike and I come to town by our selves to get our haircuts. When the work was done, I climbed out of the chair and reached into my pocket for the dollar bill. It was nowhere to be found. I checked every pocket including my back pocket and shirt pocket but the bill was gone.
By this time I was about to panic. I didn't want the barber to think I was trying to cheat him. I was embarrassed because I had asked my big brother if I could be the caretaker of the money.
The barber kindly told us he wasn't worried, he knew our dad was good for it. I still wasn't exactly thrilled about returning home and explaining it to Dad. I walked home with my head down most of the way. As I crossed the vacant lot just across from our house, there was the dollar bill, lying in the grass.
Mike and I turned around and took the bill to the barber. I never forgot Bill, the barber, for trusting me.
Will love, trust and forgiveness ever be a part of the American lifestyle again? If not, our children and grandchildren will never experience the age of the innocence that we once did.