Anyone remember the line “pride goeth before a fall”?
We find ourselves in a strange new world. Parents from those intriguingly labeled generations, the X Gen, or the Y Gen or even those extra new-age-y Millenials are getting together with a properly sized audience to applaud the fact that their little spawn has been able to produce a bowel movement. Hopefully when their little gift from the Universe grows a little older and is entered into some noncompetitive competitive junior sport, he will receive a richly decorated trophy not for winning anything or attaining anything particularly special, but just for being able to continue breathing by the end of any particular game.
Aren’t we all special? Naaaaaaawwwwww.
Our ancestors had to deal with more pressing questions, like “are we going to make it out of here alive by the end of the day”. They had neither the time nor the inclination to pump an already swollen ego with their own “special-ness”. Perhaps they had an innate understanding that they weren’t special, and that it was alright if they weren’t!
You hear this self important nonsense all the time on the ham bands. I understand pride in your equipment – you worked hard to afford it, or traded wisely to acquire it, or maybe even built the darn thing yourself. You thought deep and long what it should be made up of, so I understand the sense of pride. What I don’t quite understand are the fine old gentlemen that repeatedly crow that they have been in this hobby for over 80 years (I am of course exaggerating, but only a bit – the magic number is usually in the 50-60’s). This is not necessarily some arduously hard earned achievement – Amateur Radio license renewals do not require any demonstration that you have progressed in the hobby, or even that you have maintained your level of understanding, that you showed, to obtain your license in the first place. Longevity in this hobby could be as simple as regularly mailing in your renewal paperwork! In the final analysis, it often means that you have had the good sense not to die at an early age! Regrettably, as any health provider can tell you, longevity is all too often the consequence of picking the right parents, dumb luck, and not taking up the habit of crossing busy intersections blindfolded. Do people give honors for winning a random lottery? These days, probably!
I have spoken with brilliant Hams with a half century of hard earned expertise, but I have also spoken with 50+ year old ticket holders who are as radio-dumb as a bag of rocks. In this hobby, as most aspects of life, you get what you put into any endeavor – if you have been a vacant-minded Ham for 50+ years, you learned pretty much nothing in all those years. I was proud to be baptized by one of those clueless Hams with little more than their seniority as an indication of their self worth as “Real” Hams, when I was labeled as yet another “one of those new guys, that’s what’s wrong with this hobby”. Trust me great-grandpa, Amateur exams were even harder before you decided to join the club. You don’t really deserve a bronze plaque for the personal achievement, your reward is/was getting to use your transmitter. Trust me, the Spartan’s right of passage was a lot more arduous than copying 13 WPM of morse code. Hell, my Bar Mitzvah was harder, and most 13 year old boys, who are given the task, seem to be able to accomplish it!
Just as an illustration of how important each of us are… There are approximately 7,125,000,000 people alive today. Some people suggest that the total number of homo sapiens sapiens, modern men, that have ever lived, amounts to something like 50 to 100 billion individuals! This lovely planet is only one within a Galaxy that has approximately 200,000,000,000 stars, and our lovely little Milky Way Galaxy is but one of approximately 100,000,000,000 Galaxies that make up this particular Universe (who knows if there are parallel Universes “out there”?). In the great scheme of things, we are ALL as ultimately more inconsequential than a single grain of sand In the middle of the Sahara Desert, is to all the works of mankind.
We just ain’t that special… and it’s okay!
So, enjoy the hell out of your hobby and the rest of your life. It’s a one-way trip with a common destination. Enjoy the path you chose to take to get there, and try to make it a long and an enjoyable trip!
The [Cranky] Editor