The here and now compared to the "good old days"

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory." Franklin Pierce Adams.

"Things ain't what they used to be and probably never was." Will Rogers.

"If you're yearning for the good old days, just turn off the air conditioning." Griff Niblack.

We are well-aware of the age-old argument as to whether the world (including our American society) is getting better or worse as we continue to move forward in the 21st Century.

Of course, as is the case with many issues, there's a bit of truth in both positions.

But, in keeping with a sermon we heard recently, we lean toward the view that "things" are indeed getting better.

We know there seems to be a part of human nature that manifests itself in negative behavior -- as the verse says, "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."

And that side of mankind will be apparent until the end of time.

But some tend to forget the good that can be found, to one degree or another, in all of us. These are the people that see only the cloud and not the silver lining. It's easy to get caught up in the negative thought process that emanates from people with that world view.

Again, referring to the sermon, there are many signs that our society, as with much of the world, is getting better. Admittedly, many of these standards are in the realm of economic issues, leaving open the debate as to the relative morality and spirituality of our times.

Over recent years, there have been remarkable gains in our overall economy. We understand there are dips and recessions and negative market indicators, but the overall trend has been upward for many years.

Most of us in America live in a manner that only could have been dreamed by our forefathers. Our transportation opportunities, the "creature comforts" we find in our homes and our leisure activities are rather unbelievable.

Of course, none of this is intended to overlook the magnitude of the problems many in our society face, but the point is the vast majority of Americans are living well by past standards.

Many people may not be aware of the tremendous increase in life expectancy that has occurred in the past 100 years or so. It has risen from less than 50 years at the turn of the century to almost 80 today. Obviously, the huge developments in medical treatment have led to this change.

Many of us are concerned about crime and violence in our society and these are real fears. But we shouldn't forget that man's inhumanity to man has manifested itself throughout the ages and some of the real barbarism of earlier centuries seems to have abated, at least in the western world.

Of course, a counter argument could be made that the 20th Century was one of the bloodiest in history, so that represents "the other side of the story."

Many would argue, and quite successfully, that morality is on the decline in present-day America. But let's not forget that, during what some refer to the "golden age" of American society, basic human rights were denied to large numbers of our citizens.

In conclusion, those professing either side of the "better or worse" debate have a lot of strong points to make.

Let's just say for now that we do have much for which to be thankful, but there is no shortage of areas in which we can do better.

And, from our perspective, we are making positive strides in our society that shouldn't be downplayed or overlooked when we hear someone praising how everything was so much better "in the good old days".

--REK