Posted by: zhak39 | December 1, 2005


The other night Sam gave me homework. He needed to ask someone older than 21 what was the most significant political, scientific, or social change that occurred in their lifetime and how this change made an impact in the personal, local or global arena. Hmm, one to ponder.

I told him that I believe that there has been a shifting consciousness over the last 40 years that has been nurtured and supported by the technology that helps human being to communicate and share information amazingly quickly. I told him that people are growing past ‘tolerating’ individual differences, past ‘accepting’ individual differences, currrently passing ‘celebrating’ individual differences and moving toward difference as a non-issue.

I told him that in the past 40+ years people have started on a small scale to take care of themselves, the people next to them, and recognizing that others be they in the house, next door or around the globe are connected and that small action is effective action.

I told him that in the past 40 years people have banded together for their day-to-day living and by doing so, built their own networks. That because of this, as tyrannical governments fell or collapsed or exploded or imploded, there was an infrastructure available so that they could shoulder on and continue. That bloodless revolution and non-military solutions are becoming more common.

I told him that when his grandmother was a girl, women were considered inferior to men, African-Americans (then called coloreds) were considered inferior to whites, that Asians were called Orientals and considered weird and exotic and that Native Americans weren’t considered at all. I told him that people who had physical, mental, and emotional challenges were sent away from their families and hidden. That western society had only one model family that was idealized through various media and that anyone that didn’t aspire to perpetuate this nuclear cluster of heterosexual couple with children was either not acknowledged or stigmatized.

He asked me if people who wore glasses (a physical flaw) were stigmatized and I told him only if they were women! My mother stumbled through high school half blind because she wouldn’t wear her glasses. She got the reputation of a snob because she wouldn’t respond when others waved at her or smiled in the hall. It didn’t occur to them that to her, they were colors and blurs.

I told him that his generation is the most wonderful generation because they are born in the cusp of this universal change to loving kindness. That he and his brother and sister bless me with the company of other children of widely different religious and racial and social and economic and political and physical attributes and not one of these differences ever enters their radars.

I have shared these questions with others and have gotten a variety of responses. If anyone wishes to help Sam and his classmates expand their awareness of how they have gotten here, please leave your perspective in a comment. I will give them to his teacher as well as compile them for a future blog.


  1. What a wonderful, thoughtful response, Zha. I am happy to see such an optimistic world view. As someone in the film “1 Giant Leap” said, “I have to be an optimist. There is no alternative.”

    Good job!

  2. Right off the bat, I’d have to say that the desegregation of the public schools had the biggest impact on my individual perspective as well as on a national scale. I was raised by racists and I don’t know if I would ever have learned the truth if I had not been exposed to children of other races on a daily basis. I’m sure that it made a huge difference on an individual level for many people.

    Now that my mother has spent many years in the workplace interacting with a diverse population, her attitudes have changed as well.

    The work goes on in this area…

  3. Ron–I’m not an optimist, I’m a realist.

    Laurie–this is great, I’ll pass it on to Sam.

  4. There were three events that changed the way I view the world. The first was Watergate. Until that event I was very naive politically. This made me become much more aware and politically active. The second was the Vietnam war.It really opened my eyes to the futility of trying to solve problems by warfare.The third was the assasinations of John and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

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