The pendulum never stops in the middle

Bill Miles

Fifteen years ago I was invited to be a participant in the “Executive Seminar for Southern Legislators” held at the University of North Carolina. I recall an academic ‘demographer’s’ lecture on the changing ‘face’ of our nation. Such research relates to who we are, what we are and what we’ll become. He emphasized that within a generation this nation would become a ‘majority minority’ state. To prove his point he calculated birth rate among different segments of the population, the continuing lure of folks in other countries to chase their idea of the American Dream and a few other emerging characteristics. “It’s really rather simple,” he explained. “A 19-year-old today will be 29 years old in 10 years.” That brought perspective. In 2008 a feat many felt would never occur happened when an African American became our President. I fell into a group who said, “Yes, we’ve changed. Even a woman might be elected to the high office.” Demographics march onward. In spite of roadblocks some forces attempt to erect the ‘browning’ of our nation continues. Efforts to ‘marginalize’ this phenomenon are attributed to some who fear change. Eventually it will be accomplished regardless of what may be tried to thwart the outcome. I re-visited my workbook from the aforementioned seminar. In the opening paragraphs was a quote from Joseph H. Elis who wrote, “Founding Fathers: The Revolutionary Generation.” I highlighted this statement “…the very notion that a candidate should openly solicit votes violated the principled presumption that such behavior itself represented a confession of unworthiness for national office.” This had been the view of George Washington. My, how we’ve changed. I’ve lived through some significant changes in our culture. As a youngster I was affected by World War II because I had three brothers and a brother-in-law in uniform along with an assortment of near kin and family acquaintances. Many did not return to their loved ones. I vividly recall when the Tilden School of my initial education pursuit turned students out (made us) to go to the funeral for a returning GI’s remains. After the War, I saw demographics for the middle class emerge without recognizing it. Then as the evils of segregation and exploitation of a race were confronted, I was participating in what I believe to be one of the most honorable professions of mankind, journalism. As a reporter/photographer I got to be on the front lines of ‘big happenings’. Again, we usually don’t comprehend true value until historians come along and analyze. During the “Hippie” Movement I recall a futurist predicting that those of that generation would likely transition into the most conservative group yet. I believe the guy was ahead of his times. Cotton has lost its lofty pinnacle. Yankees became welcomed with their access to capital. Still a portion of citizens hold imaginary glory of an antebellum economy which few if any would have participated. Where are we today? I recall many futile attempts to hold back progress. Few readers admit it. Even less will relate those days to modern times. That’s a matter of opinion. In 1963 politicians loved to stand with racial demagogues to appeal to voters. In less than a decade they abandoned those same icons in disrepute. When I recognized my Mississippi was fleeing ideals championed by most of the rest of the country, I wrote my friend, William Winter, lamenting that I felt we (he, I and a few others) were part of a ‘lost generation’. His reply, “Bill, every generation thinks it’s lost.” The pendulum seldom stops in the center for very long. If and when it does, I’m gonna try to grab it and hug it for the fleeting moment. I still believe the majority vote should prevail. Do you?.

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