Progress

When I was eight years old, my parents took me to Disney World. One of the most memorable parts of that trip was getting stuck on the Carousel of Progress. (As I typed that sentence, the irony just smacked me in the face.) I freaked out. Not like a little scared. Like I was crying my eyes out because I thought we were actually stuck on the ride and couldn’t get out. I didn’t realize they could open the doors and let us out at any point, which is what they eventually did. I never got to finish that particular ride that trip, even though I’m not sure I would have wanted to anyway.

About thirty years later, we took our kids to Disney World for the first time. On the way there, I told them that same story, and we decided that I would finally get to finish riding the Carousel of Progress. My daughter, who was eight at the time, loved the ride. I think we ended up riding it about 10 times before the trip was over. Particularly, she liked the song that goes with it. That was a part that was lost on the eight year old me. She seems to be a little more in tune with the world than I was at that age. Here’s the song lyrics in case you aren’t familiar with it.

“There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day.

There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, and tomorrow is just a dream away.

Man has a dream, and that’s the start.

He follows his dream with mind and heart.

And when it becomes a reality, it’s a dream come true for you and me.

So there’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day.

There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, just a dream away.”

“There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” Walt Disney World Carousel of Progress

Cheesy? Yep, but with a nice moral. When Walt Disney had Rex Allen write the lyrics for the Carousel of Progress, the theme and intent was about technological progress. But as with any form of art, it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

Putting those lyrics into a more modern context, we still have a long way to go. With all of the technological breakthroughs of modern man (and woman) we still haven’t figured out how to love each other. Too many people, acting out of fear and ignorance continue to hurt and persecute others who are not the same as them. The problems are more widespread than most people like me would want to believe.

I’d like to hope that things will get better. I’ve mentioned multiple times that I’m a reluctant optimist. I do think that most people are inherently good. Unfortunately, they (we) often get bad information and work from backwards assumptions because it’s easier to listen to some “authority” on a subject than it is to do your own research on the issue. Too much garbage floats around the Internet these days. Hopefully, I’m not adding to the garbage.

It doesn’t help when our “leaders” fear change and progress. Maintaining the status quo may be the easy thing to do, but often it is not the right thing. Ignoring scientific evidence about climate change and pandemics is not progress. Spreading lies about people who look and/or act, believe, or love different than you is not progress. The best (not inappropriate) word I can think of for that is ignorance.

But just hoping for things to get better will not create change. We have to act on these ideas. Vote, march, write, speak, do something. At the high school, we tell students “If you see something, say something” when they hear or see bullying, self harm, or anything else that should be reported. Perhaps we should spread that same message to the wider world so that we can foment change for the good. Maybe then we could see even more progress and a great big beautiful tomorrow.

My daughter was (is) a big fan of Dr. Seuss stories. I’ve read most of the popular stories to her many, many times. At one point I had over half of One Fish, Two Fish memorized. I may also secretly be a fan of Dr. Seuss as well. At any rate, one of my favorites is The Lorax. If you’ve read it, and if you bothered to read this post to the end, you can probably understand why.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,

Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

From “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss