Times have changed

February 25, 2008

by Jenni Sebora

“Times have changed.” We all have probably heard or said that statement at one time or another. And we probably have experienced situations that support this statement as well.

The other day I was driving down a county road in McLeod County and came upon a hitchhiker (I am not sure if that is the politically correct word to use now). With all of the safety precautions that we are to take and we teach our children – stranger safety, etc., my “safety red flags” went up, and I continued to drive right by the stranger without stopping.

My inner feelings would have liked to stop and ask him what help he needed. That’s what my dad did when I was a child. On different occasions, my father did stop and pick up a hitchhiker here and there.

On those occasions, I remember sitting in the front passenger seat of our big green LTD Ford with the hitchhiker in the back seat. No words really were exchanged except for where he wanted to be dropped off.

I don’t know if that was the “safe” thing to do then as well, but my father and mother grew up with the belief that you always helped your “neighbor.”

Your neighbor wasn’t just someone who lived next door or the next farm over – your neighbor was really anyone who needed help. As my dad put it, “we all need help at some time in our lives.”

My parents both grew up during the Depression, and it was not uncommon to lend your hay barn or some other building as sleeping quarters to someone in need for a night – someone who had lost their belongings to the depressive economic hardships that fell.

So it was that my dad’s family farm was “home” to different travelers in need of a place to stay for a short time. Again, there was not much conversation shared between the travelers and the keepers – just silent exchanges telling each other they knew the circumstances.

People did what they could to help their neighbors.

I don’t believe times have changed that much. I think that we continue to want to help our neighbors; we just have to be more careful in doing so. It is important that our children know the importance of helping others.

Many other things have certainly changed over time – obviously in terms of medical, transportation, plumbing, heating, fuel, etc.

I recently watched a Little House on the Prairie show in which the towns folk were bringing in their first printing press for the start of the first Walnut Grove newspaper, and Laura explained, “Times are changing.”

I read a news flash on the computer a few weeks ago making an announcement that a car which drives itself could be ready for sale in a decade.


My thoughts immediately moved to thoughts of my children. In ten years, two of my children would be of driving age. What would this mean for them?

I often think of what life and living will be like when my children are grown. What will the cost of a gallon of gasoline and a gallon of milk be? What will housing costs be like? What values will people live by? What will marriage mean?

Deep thoughts, but real concerns. We can only hope that the values we have instilled in our children will carry on as they live their lives and raise their families.

Some day our children will say, “How times have changed.”

Times will continue to change. What we as parents (as a parent myself I am speaking on behalf of other parents) want most for our children is for them to be happy, caring, hard working individuals who will live their lives surrounded by caring individuals.

“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.”

– John W. Whitehead

“Children are travelers in an unknown land and we are their guides.”

–Robert Fisher

May we guide our children with the knowledge that they are loved and worthy of love, and may we be the examples for them.

As Franklin Roosevelt said, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”