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"Things have always been this way!"

 A TSA agent waits for passengers to pass through a magnetometer at Los Angeles International Airport
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

A recent poll asked: ‘Do you feel things are getting better, staying the same, or getting worse?’

How would you answer?

A commenter on my column about the UN attacking religion said: “The predictions of end times have been going on for 2000 years. The end is eternally nigh. 10,000 years from now, you guys will still be saying it's the end times.”

This guy doesn’t know it, but he just fulfilled a scripture. 2 Peter 3:3,4 says: “In the last days scoffers will come who make a mock at everything--men governed only by their own passions, and asking, "What has become of His promised Return? For from the time our forefathers fell asleep all things continue as they have been ever since the creation of the world."

I had occasion to fly last week. I couldn’t help thinking about the first time I flew…1968, Portland to Honolulu. It was a big deal. I wore my best suit. We walked up to the counter, displayed our tickets, and were ushered onto the plane by a couple of the most gorgeous women I’d ever seen, wearing reassuring smiles and confidence-inspiring Pan Am uniforms. I hung on their every word as they explained how to buckle and adjust the seat belt, and about using the seat cushion as a flotation device in the event of a water landing.

There were no x-ray machines, no luggage searches, no metal detectors, no pat downs. There were no announcements about not leaving your bags unattended, no bomb-sniffing dogs, no one asked if I’d packed my bag myself.

Last week’s trip was much different. First was all the folderol of getting through security at Sky Harbor… the long zig-zag line, shoes off, belt off, hold your pants up with one hand while taking everything out of your pockets with the other, put your laptop in a separate bin, no liquids more than 3 ounces, all liquids in a separate see-through hold-all… They waved through the guy in front of me who was carrying a 5-foot hickory walking stick with knobs on it. If he was – as I believe – Jet Li traveling incognito, he could have used it to take out the entire flight crew and half the passengers. But my 8 ounce bottle of Pepto-Bismol is a security risk.

But wait, there’s more. Step into the Pro-vision L3 Millimeter Wave Scanner, hands up, (but don’t drop your pants.) My wife’s hearing aid created some sort of alert that prompted a guard to grope her chest while another waived a wand over the back of her head. I waddle over to collect my shoes, belt and flash drive – did I mention my flash drive had to be scanned again? Must be an even bigger threat than the Pepto – then walk barefoot over 50 yards of e coli- and Legionella-infested carpet to get to a bench Homeland Security has thoughtfully provided for humiliated passengers to retie their shoes and try to recover their dignity.

During the pre-flight safety briefing, someone remarked that anyone who doesn’t know how to use a seat belt shouldn’t be allowed to fly, and his seatmate replied that (as we were flying from Phoenix to Atlanta) if we had to deal with a water landing we had much bigger issues to think about that using the seat cushion as a floatation device.

How did we get to this place? Worse, how did we get to where people seem to think that this is just a temporary inconvenience, or worse, that this is perfectly normal behavior? Do they really think things are going to turn around? Do they think that somehow the terrorist threat will be neutralized? Or that science will come up with a simple, non-intrusive foolproof scanner that will be able to neutralize the bad guys before they can even come to the airport?

Perhaps things are NOT going along ‘exactly as they have been ever since the creation of the world.’

In 1956 Dad bought a new Chevy. It featured a handle around the ignition, which was marked ‘Lock, Off, On, Start.’ A person could turn the handle to Lock and remove the key, and that was considered a sufficient theft-deterrent. However, you also had the option to turn the handle to ‘Off,’ remove the key and toss it on the dresser, and start the car with the handle alone, as my folks did for the next two years.

Which begs the question: Why would GM build a car in 1956 that needed no key? If things are no worse today than they were in 1956 why are cars now built with security systems that rival missile launchers, with features that, if you forget to arm them, will arm themselves? Is it because car manufacturers needed more features to sell? Or is it because the rate of car theft went up?

The top disciplinary problems in school in the 1940s and 1950s included chewing gum, running in the halls, and cutting in line. Today that list would include teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, drug abuse, weapons and suicide. Again, does anyone believe these changes are temporary?

Medicine has made amazing advances, but people are sicker than ever.

Science has figured out ways to triple and quadruple crop yields, but a billion people still go to bed hungry each night; there are more starving people today than there were in the last famine.

And those of us who are not starving are malnourished, stuffing ourselves with nutrient-deficient Big Macs, trans-fat fries, genetically modified soy protein, estrogen-enhanced milk, and hormone-altered chicken nuggets.

People's morals have changed. The novel "50 Shades of Grey" was described as 'soft-porn for women' yet it broke sales records. Early reviews of the movie complained that it wasn't raunchy enough. Movies have to keep pushing boundaries if they want to keep selling tickets to an increasingly jaded public. Bumper stickers that used to bear warm fuzzy messages like ‘visualize whirled peas’ have been replaced by slogans such as ‘Don’t honk, I’m reloading as fast as I can.’ And unfortunately, there’s more truth than poetry in the latter. Your grandmother’s world didn’t include phrases like “going postal” or “road rage.”

If you do not believe these are the last days, how bad do things have to get to convince you?

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