I don’t want to return to the ‘good old days’
A recent letter in The News lamented the present times, especially the use of social media, and the political dissension. The writer yearned for the “good old days.”
To put this in perspective, I believe I am of the same generation as that writer, being over 70, and I don’t recall the good old days as being so fine for a lot of people.
Yes, we knew our neighbors better – even the nasty ones who would complain to our parents and even call the police over our minor childish antics such as hopping their fence to retrieve a ball. Children had much more freedom to play outside, which was good for developing independence. But the dark side was that we were more at the mercy of neighborhood bullies, racists and anti-Semites who would pick on us.
In the post-World War II era, poverty, disease and racism were at least as prevalent as today, probably even more so. I knew classmates who endured polio and scarlet fever. Life expectancy was much lower. Drug addiction and alcoholism abounded; it just wasn’t reported on as much. And there was always the overwhelming terror of the possibility of nuclear war. I recall the duck-and-cover drills at school.
Today I am mostly thankful for all of the advances made in technology, science and medicine. The changes I have witnessed have generally improved life for the great majority of people. It has been pleasing to see the advances made by previously less advantaged people.
In the 1950s, we worried about McCarthyism, the Ku Klux Klan and the John Birch Society. Communists have never been a real threat in America. There has always been political discord in this country. It is the nature of democracy. Dictators do not allow opposing views.
My grandparents were immigrants who arrived in America with only the clothes on their backs, and now all of their grandchildren have become highly educated, respected professionals. I would say that my life has turned out much better than I could have imagined as a child.
No, I do not long for the “good old days.” I look forward to each new day with curiosity, wonder and optimism.