“The ultimate test of man's conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”
Mike' Dad Jose with Mom Maria and sister Hilda.
Long ago, but only yesterday.
by Michael Velazquez
As I write this, my Dad would have celebrated his 101st birthday. When I try to put this in perspective, it amazes me how the world has changed in that time frame. The US entered World War I; Einstein was developing his Theory of Relativity; The Bolshevik Revolution overthrew the Czars in Russia.
In economics, the US Federal budget was $2 Billion and a postage stamp was 2 cents. In 1917, only 2 years after the Income Tax burst on the scene, you would have been doing reasonably well if you earned about $700 a year, that is, if you were a man; if you were a woman, cut that number by half – some things never change.
A hundred years ago, the median price for a house was about $3200. By comparison, a car cost about $2,000 and gas was a whopping 15 cents a gallon. I don’t have to remind you what things cost today because you know it.
Of course, life is drastically different nowadays, or is it? Different historical events, yes, and different price levels for goods and services, but essentially, we live, we are employed, we earn income, we spend some of it, we save and invest some of it, and accumulate assets over time.
Every generation has its obstacles and challenges, some greater than others. My Dad taught me the value of resilience in the face of trying times. Those lessons have served me well. He came to this country in his 40’s, with a wife and three kids in tow, not knowing the language and without a dime to his name. He was always grateful for becoming a US Citizen. “Best country in the world; get an education, work hard and you can accomplish anything you want”. I can attest to the truth of that statement.
Whether life is better or worse today than it was 101 years ago is less important than how we relate to one another within our lifetimes, the only chance we have to impact these outcomes. I believe we do live in a historical continuum, representing the cumulative aspirations, hopes and fears of all the generations that came before us. Let’s make the most of it.