“Glad to be old so I don’t have to live in this cold, uncaring world for 50 more years.”
This is truly a heartbreaker of a read, a sad love-letter, full of longing, sent to a world that can’t or won’t write back:
The writer of this piece, who signs herself “Mrs. S.F. Kistler” has dared to address a topic that almost goes unspoken: the breakdown in society that has destroyed any sense of community or neighborliness (particularly in the suburbs), the lack of respect for the property of others, and the sense of intrusion that is becoming all-too-common whenever someone does make a friendly gesture. The “old way” she describes in her piece? That used to be the norm:
Our “new way” puts me in mind of Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone, wherein he detailed how thoroughly our communities were in the process of collapsing, and also Dick Meyer’s later book, Why We Hate Us. It also put me in mind of a conversation I had a dinner recently with some friends. I’d been talking about a comedy routine I’d seen by a comedian I’d never heard of before, Sebastian Maniscalco. He talked about how differently we receive company than our parents did, and he was, to my way of thinking, spot-on.
You can watch the routine here, but be aware of the rough language. You’re warned.
Our dinner companions agreed, “My mother always had an Entenmann’s cake we weren’t allowed to touch,” one said, “because it was ‘for company’ — in case anyone dropped by.”
We used to think about that — holding something back, keeping something in waiting, just so we could give it to someone else, and we didn’t even know who that might be. Imagine that. Now, we hold nothing in abeyance — not a cake, not an opinion, not a caustic remark, not sexual desire. We deny ourselves nothing for the sake of another, intent on gratification in the fleeting moment, and no thoughts for tomorrow. We serve ourselves.
A few days ago, Bob Dylan finally accepted his Nobel Prize for Literature, and he did it with a very humble speech, crediting his musical influences, and more:
That’s not really typical grammar school reading, anymore, and all of the measuring standards have changed, as Bishop Robert Barron notes here.
One of Dylan’s iconic hits was “Gotta Serve Somebody”:
Sadly, too much of the world seems to have embraced John Lennon’s response to Dylan: “Serve Yourself.” I don’t think we are the better for it.
No wonder poor “Mrs. S.F. Kistler” is feeling so lonely, and why she finds the world so cold and unfeeling. She’s still operating on the older, warmer — burned down to embers — human model.
Let Mrs. Kistler be our wake-up call, before it becomes extinguished, and humanity along with it.