My son is 14 years old.
Back when I was 14, if someone had told me General Motors would go bankrupt and the Flint Journal would cease daily publication, I'd have thought them either stupid or mad or most likely both.
Yet yesterday, GM filed for bankruptcy and the Flint Journal scaled back to a thrice-weekly print schedule.
When I was 14, GM was both omnipotent and omnipresent. Factories were pumping out trucks and cars 24 hours a day. Thousands upon thousands of people were employed there and this area relied on those salaries (and tax revenues) both directly and indirectly.
And throughout that time the Flint Journal was the ubiquitous chronicler of this area's happenings. It's what we read. It's what our parents read. And their parents. And probably their parents. I remember seeing family pictures taken decades before I was born. More often than not, there would be a copy of the Flint Journal on a table in the background.
And now both GM and the Journal face an uncertain future.
That's why I can't help but wonder what the world will be like when my son reaches his mid- 40's. What paragons of stability of his teenage years will cease to exist? What will Flint be like then? Or Michigan?
As things stand right now, it's difficult to optimistic about the future. But an objective study of history leads me to the conclusion that things eventually get better. It's certainly not a quick process and sometimes for every five steps forward there are four steps back, but over the long haul, things do improve. Maybe it will take decades. Maybe generations. But despite my glum exterior and short-term pessimism, I am, paradoxically, a long-term optimist. I am as certain as I am about anything that someday the future will be better. Different, to be sure, but better.
The road thereto will likely be strewn with potholes and puddles.
But we'll get there.
Battered and weary from the hard journey, perhaps, but we'll get there.