Day of rest as usual. Went to church. The lesson in Sunday school was on developing talents. The manual talked about Shelly Mann. At the age of 5 she had polio and was put into the swimming class to help her recover. At first she was worse that all the girls in her class who were also recovering from polio. Then she was able to lift up her arms. Then she swam the width of the pool. Then the length. Eventually she won the Olympic gold in butterfly. The lesson also made me think of Wilma Rudolph and I read about her as well. She came from a family of 22 children, and was number 20. She was born prematurely, survived through a miracle, had severe developmental problems, and could not walk on her own until she was 12. But she overcame all of that and won three Olympic gold medals in 100 meters, 200 meters, and 4x400 relay in 1960.
As I read I pondered and wondered where the Shelly Manns and Wilma Rudolphs are today. It's been a while since we've seen anything like this. A handicapped child growing up to be an Olympic champion. I think there are several reasons why. One is that there is more competition. 11.18 100 meters does not earn you the Olympic gold anymore today. You will be lucky to make the final. So a handicapped child with a hidden talent is racing numerous others with equal or greater talent who are not handicapped. Even if he accomplished something equivalent to what Wilma Rudolph did it will not get the same publicity.
Another reason, perhaps more significant, is that back in the 40s, 50s, and 60s we were a nation that aimed for the stars, both figuratively and literally. Since then we have become more cynical and instant-gratification minded. Families have been eroded. The children are being raised by the public school system more than by their parents and teachers in that system are forbidden to teach spiritual values. Children are not valued, and abortions and birth control have increased. Perhaps the Wilma Rudolph of today has been aborted when some doctor said she would be born with a defect. Or possibly never conceived in the first place. And if she does manage to make it past birth, good luck finding a set of parents that will do what it takes to inculcate the faith it requires to accomplish such a feat.
There is a lot of talk on the news about the economy. Some people blame Obama, others blame Bush, yet others move the numbers around and blame it on the real estate bubble, stock market bubble, risky loans, immigration, etc. I think they miss the root of the problem. It is the generation X mentality of indolence, instant gratification, and aversion to meaningful challenges. In other words, the problem is that it is highly unlikely that we will see another Shelly Mann or Wilma Rudolph today. Until it is fixed, it does not matter who the president is or what the government does.