No. 765



Over the years many companies that have used the slogan, “Better … Than the Original.” One of the copy machine companies, I have forgotten which one, used this slogan to impress customers and would be customers that when an original went in their machine, the resulting copy would be sharper and clearer than the original that was used to make the copy. To be sure, this company’s machines did a good job, but it will take some doing to convince me that when you use a copy to make a copy and then take this copy and make another copy, and continue the pattern, the end result will be just as good as the original or the first one. With each succeeding generation you lose a little quality.
In a very real sense, this is what has been happening in our nation over the past several generations. While technology is great and has helped us in so many ways, we may have reached the point of overkill, especially in the area of electronics. Sometimes what we think is progress is really not progress at all, but just another way for companies to make a profit on customers who are hooked on having the latest things or gadgets. However, kids in today’s culture who are growing up with all these “advantages” may be missing an education in the most important quality of all -- the development of personal integrity and character.
In relation to integrity and character, it may be necessary to go back to the original to see where we went wrong. Most Americans are familiar with the term, “The Greatest Generation,” but many of today’s youth may not know what it means. This is a term coined by journalist Tom Brokaw to describe the generation who grew up in the United States during the deprivation of the Great Depression, and then went on to fight in World War II, as well as those whose productivity within the war’s home front made a decisive material contribution to the war effort. In 1998 Tom Brokaw wrote the book “The Greatest Generation” that will provide the basis for the kind of character that built our nation into the greatest superpower on earth.
I came along near the end of World War II and grew up when the vast majority of our citizens had character -- back in the days when no one locked their doors, a man’s word was his bond and adults felt safe in correcting the children of others. Then something happened when the Vietnam War era came along. This war was so unpopular that a new generation grew up who had disdain for authority and a total lack of respect for many of the institutions in our society. Now, this is where the slogan “Better…Than the Original” comes into play. When you take “The Greatest Generation,” the parents of “Baby Boomers” and they have children, and they have children, and they have children, and each succeeding generation is a little further removed from the original, you have only to read, listen and watch the news to see the results.
In spite of our recent history, we have many fine young people today who are the leaders of tomorrow. The slogan of our “Bookcase for Every Child” project is “Building a New Generation of Readers.” In today’s times, if children are to succeed, they must learn to read and keep reading to become lifelong readers. It’s not just learning to read that will enable our children to succeed, but they must also develop outstanding character. To be sure, we are each copies of a copy, but if we latch on to a good original and allow them to mentor us, we will help to preserve our way of life and insure future generations the same great opportunities we have had.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)