The Deeply Flawed America I Knew & Loved

I’m publishing this series of articles to share and discuss my ruminations on coping with a troubled and messy world. Please “follow” me to never miss an article.

As I struggle like so many to cope with a world gone mad and a country that verges daily on the loss of Democracy, increasingly I find myself constantly reminiscing about my skewed memories of the 1950’s, the years in which I entered adulthood.

In 1956, I enrolled at UC Berkeley as a Freshman. I paid $56 for 18 units of Engineering at one of the best universities in the world. Coming from a chronically dysfunctional and poor family, unlike today’s students who are faced with enormous tuition bills, I could well afford it. And in 1967 when I completed my PhD at Berkeley, I paid only $200 a semester. In addition, given that I had taken out Government loans to pay for my room and board, all of which were forgiven in 6 years because I became a University Professor, I essentially got a free education. It allowed a poor kid to become relatively well off. As a result, I’ve never minded paying taxes to a country that treated me so well.

Looking back, the upheavals of the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s, and even 80’s seem mild in comparison to today. Even though the Republican Party began its transformation from a relatively responsible Political Party to one that is now completely demented, it had leaders that were reasonable.

In short, even with the turmoil of the years in which I grew up, one felt that the world was still orderly, and most of all, that the country was “On the Right Track.”

Yes, I know that my memory is clouded by wishful thinking. For I also remember the struggles for Civil Rights and the lives that were lost in overcoming Racism. Likewise, women were not treated with the respect they deserved, and the Vietnam war, against which I marched in protest, was an utter abomination.

Yes, I yearn for the seemingly placid times of the past, but they were not as honorable as I would like to remember them. The difficult task is always to face the awful Realities of the past so that we don’t repeat them again and again.

Ian I. Mitroff is credited as being one of the principal founders of the modern field of Crisis Management. He has a BS, MS, and a PhD in Engineering and the Philosophy of Social Systems Science from UC Berkeley. He Is Professor Emeritus from the Marshall School of Business and the Annenberg School of Communication at USC. Currently, he is a Senior Research Affiliate in the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, UC Berkeley. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Management. He has published 41 books. His latest is: The Socially Responsible Organization: Lessons from Covid, Springer, New York, 2022.

Photo by Dinakar Tumu on Unsplash

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