Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Good Ol' Days, Really?

I actually meant to post this before the election, but I forgot that I had it ready to go.  Oh well, I hope it's thought provoking anyway.

Nostalgia is a funny thing, right?  We often look back on the past with great fondness.  We remember our youth and young adulthood as a simpler time.  We tend to only recall the good things, but never the shameful episodes of yesteryear.

What is defined as "the good ol' days" depends on your age.  My parents were born in the 1940s and they feel that the 50s were the good ol' days.  My husband was born in the 1950s and he came of age in the 70s.  I was born at some point in the last century (ha!) and I feel that the 80s and even parts of the 90s were the good ol' days.

How is it possible that the 1950s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s were all "the good ol' days?"  It's really in the eye of the beholder, isn't it?  I think that the good ol' days were when I was young and carefree. . .don't we all feel the same?  But were the good ol' days really all that great?  I humbly submit that they might have been good for you, but they sucked for someone else.

My parents tend to idealize the 1950s.  Though shows like "Leave it to Beaver" or "The Donna Reed Show" depicted a highly idealized version of that decade, I think the 50s sound like they sucked for a lot of people.  It was still a segregated world.  Whites fraternized with whites, hispanics with hispanics, blacks with blacks, asians with asians, and so on.  That homogenized existence sounds incredibly boring to me and, when I consider that segregation was actively enforced, I think it sounds painfully sad too.

My husband came of age in the 1970s.  Segregation, though forced, had already occurred.  It was believed that the worst case of VD (this is what we used to call STDs for you young 'uns out there!) you could possibly catch was easily cured with a quick, if embarrassing, trip to the doctor.  Sex was fairly free, but AIDS (of course, this term hadn't even been coined yet) was quietly simmering, unnoticed by society, because it was only killing gays and IV drug users.  Did you catch what I just said?  Since only gays and druggies were sick, no one cared.  Indeed, the general public didn't pay much attention to AIDS at all until the 80s when Rock Hudson admitted his diagnosis and the Surgeon General indicated that it would also start voraciously killing those in the heterosexual, non-drug using community.

I long for the simpler times of the 1980s and 90s.  Civil rights struggles were already like ancient history and AIDS has been a part of my vocabulary since well before my tenth birthday so two of society's ills that I mentioned have been addressed with varying degrees of effectiveness.  The 80s and 90s were a time where political correctness began to run amok, yet it inexplicably was also a time where it was socially acceptable to abort babies who had Down's Syndrome or other so-called defects.  So you couldn't say someone was a "retard" because it's not PC, but it would have been okay to stop their beating heart in utero.  This not only still occurs today, but I'd even go so far as to suggest that society expects mothers to abort "defective" children.

I guess my point is that no matter how fondly you might recall a certain period of time, there is always someone who was wounded or injured by society during that same period.  Think about who might be marginalized in your community, in your state, in your country.  Consider what you might be able to do to improve their existence. 

Americans are blessed with the right to vote and we are doubly blessed that we don't have to fear violence or other repercussions when exercising that right.  Use your vote wisely and stand up against racism, bigotry, and evil.  If you can't manage to get down to the polls, you can always start to use absentee ballots and never miss another election again.  No matter who wins on November 2nd, let's be happy and hopeful for this country's future!

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