A few years ago, I had posted something on Facebook in a moment of nostalgia. I had just swerved into ‘Wind of Change’ by the Scorpions on the radio and it kicked over some memories that I put to “paper”. I think that given current events, I’d like to resurrect, share, and expand upon that original post. I’ve snipped and pasted the pertinent section of the original text here, in bold, along with the Scorpions video:
“Heard this song on the radio yesterday and was flooded with memories from the time it was released. 1990. My adult world was still shiny and new. I had just been stationed in Germany and the Wall had just come down.
This song was an anthem of hope based in the Cold War winding down and the idealism that once the Soviets were de-throned as the world’s “other” super-power, the world would be a better, free-er place…”
Ok… so my aging ass was nostalgic a couple years ago and spewed it all over Facebook. That makes me unique… how? Well, it doesn’t. But, I started thinking about this in the context of the recent election and thought I’d put some words to “paper”, again.
No matter how you feel about the results of the recent Presidential election, it would be difficult to deny that there is change in the air. Opinions run the gamut of “morning in America” to “it’s the end of the world as we know it”. Personally, I’m hopeful about the end result. But, let’s get back to the idea at hand.
In 1990, I was a newly minted, US Army Airborne Infantryman, a paratrooper, stationed in Germany. I was 20 years old and as I wrote above, “my adult world was still shiny and new”. The atmosphere in Germany at the time was electric. The Berlin Wall had just come down, the Post Exchange was selling pieces of it in little plastic baggies as souvenirs, and East Germany was about to be officially reunited with West Germany. The West Germans weren’t terribly thrilled about the reunification because, according to the prevalent social theory at the time, the East Germans would come flooding over what had been the border and saturate the job market with low cost, unskilled labor, causing the economic double whammy of increased social fiscal burden of a population boom coupled with the potential of employers hiring the former East Germans in place of West Germans in effort to cut labor costs. As it turned out, the unwashed hoards from the East didn’t engulf the West, the German economy did not collapse under it’s own weight, and life proceeded pretty much as normal to the degree that if, today, you were to ask most anyone 35 or younger about “East Germany” you’ll probably get a perplexed look.
Irrespective of the West German economic fears, the hopeful message of “Wind of Change’ was the cultural zeitgeist of the time. The world saw a coming together of peoples who had been separated by postwar, Communism and tyranny. Things were getting better and President Ronald Reagan, a former Hollywood actor with chimpanzees for co-stars cum California Governor, had driven it to happen through the superior ideas, economics, and military firepower of the United States. Truly heady times.
Conversely, the cultural zeitgeist today, amidst similarly large potential change, tells us that the world is coming to an end. To hear it told, all is lost as a result of Donald Trump, New York real estate mogul and reality tv star, winning our Presidential election. The campaign was particularly nasty and divisive. Or, maybe it was simply reflective of a nasty political and social environment that had created its own divisions. Things were changing, as they tend to do, in ways that many felt threatened traditional American culture and values. The final vote reflected both that perspective and that desire for a reset.
I tend to think that the Trump era will yield results similar to the Reagan era. But, the response to the two are contrasting and interesting. Now, in fairness, when Reagan was elected he was widely seen as the anti-christ by his detractors… similar to the way Trump is perceived. Reagan was not remembered fondly by most Americans until after his presidency. But, there was not a time that I remember during Reagan’s tenure that there were the riots and utter societal melt-down we see currently in the United States.
I am generally positive about the prospects of the Trump administration, and time will certainly tell whether or not I’m correct to be. But, in the end, time marches on and “change is the only constant”. It’s all going to be ok, despite the rioting and overly emotional college kid outbursts. The economy will ebb and flow, and for the time being the United States will continue to be a force for good in the world. In another 4 years, those who are discontent with the direction the country has taken will have another opportunity to change it to something they prefer.
This sort of historical give and take has always fascinated me and is, at root, the human story. The story of vision, change, and hope. A desire to help to tell that human story is why I started writing. Maybe it’s simple arrogance to think that I can add in any small way to the bodies of work that literary luminaries before me produced. And if that’s true, so be it. But, I’m genuinely enjoying the writing process and I am hopeful that I am producing content in ‘Yeoman Rising’ that someone, besides me, will enjoy and get something out of.
All in all, welcome to the Yeoman Rising blog. I’ll be around and will attempt to write things that provoke thought and provide some levity from time to time. I opened this post with a video that represented a message of hope from nearly 3 decades ago. In an attempt to provide helpful counterpoint, I’ll leave you with a different video perspective that may better represent current attitudes about “today”.