Peter Rebmann: Nostalgia for the future

Published: Monday, January 7, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 7, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

The older I get, the more I appreciate the saying that wishing is nostalgia for the future. Especially as a new year rolls around, we become susceptible to an irrational hope that the coming year will eventually be remembered as part of the good old days.

As a general rule, such an outcome is unlikely. And as we roll into 2008, our prospects seem dimmer than usual. Nevertheless, we still cast our hope forward and haul in a net full of possibilities. With little but blind faith to go on, here are some results of a few casts of the net.

While it seems that racism is making a comeback, there is reason to believe that the recent eructations represent its last desperate gasps. Its last bastion, interracial marriage, has been breached. Neither dating nor marriage between races is considered remarkable these days, particularly amongst the members of the younger generation.

We oldsters did not tackle this final rampart of racism to any great degree while we fought for integration, civil rights and equal opportunity. We considered it too great a barrier to breach. Our children and grandchildren, by contrast, have simply stepped over it as though it were just a bump in the road. If they keep on this way, then 30 years from now interracial marriage will be as commonplace as interethnic marriage among white Americans is now. May they continue on their way in the coming year.

As the rubble of racism crumbles away, other issues begin to stand out. One problem common to us all is the disparity of incomes in today's economy. Is it too much to ask for that, while CEOs and professional athletes earn tens of millions a year, the rest of us could make as much as our parents did?

Forty years ago, a yearly income of $10,000 was within the reach of many working class Americans. The equivalent income today, $50,000, is not. A new racism, international demonism, has been invented to deflect our attention from this simple fact. Unfortunately for its inventors, it hasn't worked as well as they hoped. May our eyes continue to open as the new year unfolds.

Speaking of the economy, the guardians of our currency seem to have given up all hope of preserving its value. They appear to have no better plan for saving our economy than igniting a firestorm of inflation. May their plan be doused by an ocean of common sense spending by all of us.

Education is another caldron of hope and concern. Arguments rage all across the land over the costs and value of our public schools. Despite the disagreements, most people realize that it is education that mainly separates the haves from the have-nots in our economic butter churn. Perhaps in 2008 we can at least agree that we will all be better off if there are more haves than have-nots when all the churning is done.

Let's stop here and give credibility a chance to catch its breath. Age may not always bring wisdom but it does provide perspective. Nostalgia of any kind is best indulged in lightly. Too much hope can lead to too much disappointment. But still and all, some hope is better than no hope at all.

So let's not restrain our nostalgia for the future too severely this year. With a little luck, we may still catch a good one.

Peter Rebmann is a founding member and president of the Alachua County School Concurrency Project.

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