Have you ever thought about how media and culture represent the concepts of “past” and “present?”
The past is always better. It is when things were less complicated, when people were more civil, and when music wasn’t as loud.
The present is when things are going to “hell in a handbasket.” It is when we have lost track of fundamental values and when we have become more crude and more thoughtless.
Most of all, the present is precisely when we have to return to the values that we honored until the present. They were the core of our goodness, the essence of our humanity, until — well — until today.
Why do we do this?
I don’t know, but as I look around at this turbulent and unforgiving world, I can only remember the “peace and decency” that was pervasive just moments ago when I started to write this.
Sometimes I think that, as pleasurable as it is to be nostalgic, there are few places where we more brazenly reveal our ignorance:
Do people really want to go back to that idyllic past — the one without polio vaccine, the one with segregation, the one where you weren’t inconvenienced by nuisances like seat belts, the one where anybody could freely make and distribute food without worrying about safety standards set by the FDA, the one where lynching was so pervasive that people sent lynching postcards back home to brag about being a witness, the one before medicare was established when my grandmother with heart disease could luxuriate in the serenity of knowing that the government was staying out of healthcare.
Those were special times, weren’t they?