Ah, the “good ole days.” We talk about them. We long for them. If you’re a now retired country music quartet from Staunton, VA, you write and record songs about them. Waxing nostalgic is common. It was so much better, back then. Life was slower, at least in my hometown. We had bullies, but, at least among boys, there was a prescribed and very direct way of dealing with being bullied (good, bad or indifferent it was nonetheless effective if executed with reckless abandon). Drug use was something that largely happened elsewhere. Summer days lasted forever and winters were crisp and clean. Colors were brighter, sounds were clearer and rainbows were seen in Technicolor. Families were close and ate dinner together, virtually every night. Yeah…I also remember this:
Being told racism was either a good thing or “just the way things are” (to which my dad would say “tradition does not excuse stupid and Godless behavior)
Being paddled in school and having the teacher and principle try to pressure me into saying “thank you”
11 year old kids smoking
A judge telling a rape victim she “asked for it”
People throwing trash out the windows of their cars
Draining wetlands to increase tillable acreage on farms
The only way to cook fish was to fry it
Lard was the fat of choice for cooking
Disagreement with someone in a position of authority was a sure sign you didn’t “know your place.”
Sadly, some of these haven’t changed. We still have people whose behavior is stupid and evil. People still say foolish things. Our environment needs our constant attention (after all, good planets are hard to find) and we tend to make some pretty bad health decisions at times. And yet…
Life expectancy in the US is higher than it has ever been
People are far more conscious of their choices regarding exercise and food and the effect those choices have on their health
There is widespread understanding that racism, from or toward any group, is wrong.
Crime rates, including violent crimes (of which rape is one) continue to trend downward.
Could things be better than they are? Of course they could. But everything was not good in “the good ole days” anymore than everything is bad now. There are two delusions that can lead us into difficulty. The first is to believe that everything was better “way back when.” If we believe such a thing, it becomes hard to be relevant today. That matters because today is where we are. Today is where we live. The second delusion is related to the first. It’s the belief that everything is bad. This is a killer of motivation. If we accept this false belief we become fearful and live our lives in hopes of somehow managing to hang on until the bitter end, hoping that perhaps all the evil of the world will pass us by. I believe these two delusions are common to every generation. I propose an alternative.
Why not, instead of accepting a delusion as truth, simply recognize reality. Are there bad things going on today? Beyond any doubt, there are. Watch or read any major news source. They’ll be glad to tell you about all the things that are wrong. If you want a good dose of bad news, make sure you pick news sources from both ends of the political spectrum. That said, it is also a fact that there are good things happening, too. They just don’t get as much coverage. There are people feeding the hungry and clothing and housing the poor. There are families and friends supporting and encouraging one another. Every day, there are those who put forth the effort (sometimes significant effort) necessary to change their circumstances for the better.
Hope and opportunity abound every day. They are not dead. Compassion is not gone. Things are as bright as they are dark. The glass that is half-empty is also half-full.
It rained in my town, yesterday. As much as I like the rain, I was ready for it to end when I was out running errands. And then, on my way home, I saw the most vivid rainbow I have ever seen…
note: this is a delayed post in response to the daily prompt “salad days“