I always thought it was a reason conservatives gave to keep from implementing reforms. Things were not simply better in the past. We have indoor plumbing, electricity, a world wide information network, and more knowledge of the world around us. We aren't perfect, and we should learn from the past, but improvement is in going forward.

The myth of the good old days is frequently used to advance various political and social beliefs. While primarily a tool of those who identify as socially conservative, the liberals aren't above using it as well, hearking back to those oh-so-progressive days of the 60's.

There are several flaws to any argument that suggests that we should return to a previous decade's (or century, or millenium) school of thought. First of all, life is different now; it's a great leap of faith to suggest that social patterns that were effective when the Edsel was a good idea will work now that cell phones are everywhere.

But more importantly is the nostalgia problem: deifying any single historical period as "the good old days" requires turning a blind eye to that period's faults. Advocating returning to that period's mores without a clear view of the faults ensures that you'll implement them, too, with disastrous results.

As an example, remember the 50's? Remember moms who stayed home and apple pie and family vacations in the big old family car? In short, remember Leave It To Beaver? Sounds like returning to that reality is just what the US needs now, doesn't it? Now, do you remember the huge amounts of valium and alcohol those 50's parents consumed? Remember wide-spread child sexual abuse that those nuclear families allowed? Remember institutionalized racisim -- remember that Rosa Parks is about to be arrested because she refuses to give up her seat on a bus to a white woman? Remember that, in a year or two, Eisenhower will have to send federal troops to protect the first nine black students at Little Rock, Arkansas' Central High from assault by their (white) classmates?

Doesn't sound like such a good idea after all, does it?

Theft of the Present

Here I stand, body young, yet an old man. How dare you deign to live your life through me, with your tide of woes and sick-sweet perfect past?

You trample me as you grope to see through my eyes; to capture pure your once supposed bliss. You tell me these are the best years of my life, that life is at its peak, then of course you say for you it is no more. You make my life what it is not, then say there is no later hope. Which leaves me nothing. You desperately try to calm my beating wings, then add me to your fold when they are crushed. My Rome is burned, my Hitler crowned. My Atlantis remains lost forever. In your pride you have robbed me of what is mine. Hope, dreams, visions of a future that might have been bright. But you don't even notice, reminiscing as you coat my life in cheap golden paint. You speak of dreams, then remind me that they end. Why not let me live before reminding me I die?

This is how I feel: keep your cheap trinkets and your self-pity. Enjoy your life as I do mine, else take your empty memories and watch them turn to dust. As everything around you slow-decays. As you steal my present, and try in vain to escape what you have made my future.

"The good old days" are a horrible misunderstanding made by many older US politicians of our time (Time of this writing: 2001 AD). Senators and Presidents look back to their childhood and remember the days playing with their dog in the grass as a kid, or the times they explored the woods with their brother. Then they think of today, and they see trees being cut down by the hundreds, technological breakthroughs causing huge population surges, and the smell of gasoline lingers in the air.

The gruff man thinks to himself, "Times were better then." They confuse development and progress with the responsibilities that come with age. The man thinks that the fancy cars have broken the community bonds, and modern science has broken the religious sense of well being in the country.

The politician fails to realize that the new fancy cars are also safer and enhance community bonds by not killing the community. They fail to realize that science and religion don't have to contradict each other. They are even so naive as to believe that these are the sole reasons. After all they think, why would anyone write religion off as superstitious? Why would anyone wants to spend lots of money on a new fancy car? (Because columns of flame and gas guzzlers make sense of course!)

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