Philosophy from a plastic box

By Kevin Wilson

I fear change. Or, at least that’s what the little piece of paper told me.

To be more specific, that little piece of paper was included in my mail. To be even more specific, it was a flier inside my latest purchase of DVD season sets of the Simpsons — six down, 10 to go, at least until season 17 starts in a month.

This particular season set doesn’t match the other five that I have. It is a plastic case shaped like the head of Homer Simpson, instead of the standard four-DVD box that I’ve come to expect from 20th Century Fox. The flier told me I feared change and could order a free Season 6 box that looked like the first five, provided I sent them a few dollars for shipping and handling.

Subsequent editions will be shaped as various Simpsons characters, and I’ll surely be paying shipping and handling for alternate versions of those boxes as well. But I don’t think that’s evidence that I fear change in my DVD collection and my life. Rather, it proves the contrary, that I and others are more able to have something any way we want it, any time we want it.

People always talk about change being bad and how things were in the “good old days,” when fuel was less than $1 a gallon. We fail to remember that we were driving huge trucks that only got 15 miles per gallon back then. Now that fuel is about $2.50 a gallon, we don’t have to worry about driving gas-guzzling … oh, sorry. Bad example.

My point is better made in Gregg Easterbrook’s “The Progress Paradox.” A senior editor at The New Republic and columnist for the National Football League’s Web site, Easterbrook speaks of how much better things are economically and healthwise.

The contrast is that people don’t seem to feel any better about the future. Now they look back to the “good old days,” when families didn’t require two parents working to purchase the basics. During their look back, people conveniently forget that the basics in the “good old days” did not include cable television, a two-car garage and three or more vehicles.

Often, we talk about how prices for prescription drugs keep rising, but never mention that those prescription drugs and other medical advances have greatly extended our lifespans.

Who knows what other things we’ll conveniently forget from this generation, which we’ll certainly call the “good old days” a few generations from now.

So while I’m sending off shipping and handling, I think I’m going to have to disagree with the flier. I don’t fear change. Not at all.

Kevin Wilson is the managing editor of the Portales News-Tribune. He can be reached at 356-4481, ext. 33, or by e-mail:
Kevin_Wilson@link.freedom.com