“Pushing The Envelope”…

This term has existed for so long as I can remember, but the meaning has changed to a remarkable degree in that same time period.  I don’t recall the first time I heard this, but that likely would’ve been a few decades ago.  It might’ve pertained then to our space exploration or to the latest innovations in flight, or some other, by today’s token, more innocuous reference.

We seem an ‘edgier’ society today than we were a decade ago; certainly edgier than we were thirty or forty years ago.  I use ‘edgier’ in the sense of our society feeling it needs to continually push one or another ‘envelope’ simply to see how far one can go before being thought ill of.  Once that point has been reached, there seems a new horizon to reach…the next point where some new limit has been established with everything taboo to that point gradually made okay by the mores of the present day.

Movies, clothing styles, language; you name it and we’ve pushed the boundaries to new limits.  That pushing in certain areas, medicine, for example, has yielded beneficial results, while the pushing of boundaries in other areas have taken us to not-so-good places.  Hollywood sexcapades are in today’s headlines.  The mores of that culture are becoming better known by the day, it seems, and most of us are astounded that such things were so ingrained in that world.  Yet that world has had a significant influence on where we are today as a society.

Space exploration is another area where we’ve pushed the boundaries and that, by-in-large, has been beneficial in many ways.  Our language has new boundaries and not all of those are things of which we can be proud.  Clothing worn in some circles today would’ve resulted in jail time in another era.

Societal evolution appears to be more societal devolution in many instances.  We seem to succumb to baser instincts very easily as has been our wont since the beginning of life.

We are driven, apparently, to ever-new levels of achievement whether or not that achievement is something about which to be proud.  Our society is tugged and pulled in both good ways and not-so-good ways and, unfortunately, the human condition appears more likely to move to the not-so-good level of achievement as the new reality.  At least that seems the case given what we see and what we read and what we experience in today’s media.

Even actions such as kneeling rather than standing with a hand over the heart during the playing of our National Anthem before a football game is an example of ‘pushing the envelope’.  We’ve gotten to the place where being a social pariah appears to have been the goal of the action or inaction.  I have to question how many of those kneeling during our National Anthem even understand what it is they’re doing…other than rebelling against whatever is the ‘flavor-of-the-day’.

Societal Norms appear in a high state of flux today.  Ten years ago, even five years ago, there’d have been no ignoring the flag during the playing of our National Anthem preceding an NFL game.  I know some would tell us that if we elected Donald Trump as our President, we’d have to expect this kind of thing, except this has been going on long before Donald Trump even thought about politics.

I don’t think we are as faith-based a society as we were a few decades ago.  We seem to have the idea that we now really do ‘know better’ and we can find our own way without the much concern for the directions found in the ‘How To’ book we call the Bible.  We can’t look to Congress for lessons on just how we ought to act; that organization is bordering on being completely dysfunctional…and that is yet another sign of the moral decay of our society.

Not everything old is “out-of-date” and not everything new is “the way to go”.  We have to be discerning individuals, and we also have to be mindful of our base even as we push the envelope.


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