Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Remember when...?

I wish things would go back to how they were when...

Things were so much simpler then...

Nostalgia. It seems to be part of the human condition that we all must necessarily pine for the ease, simplicity and joy of the past. It's in everything. It's in the "retro" phenomenon, where the past is deemed cool. It's in our speech, when things get tough. Most insidiously, in my opinion, it's in the minds of a lot of religious folks who want lawmakers to restrict what we get to see.

You see, folks, the past wasn't this rosy, sunny land of milk and honey. It feels like the religious right wants to drag us back into the 1950s, when language hadn't become so foul, sexuality hadn't become so open, and evolution was just something that those pesky scientists were using to try to get under the skin of the true believers. They watch Leave It to Beaver and Lassie and pine for those simpler times. It's escapism.

But you know what? It was escapism then, too. That world never existed. In the 1950s and 1960s, there were race riots going on, there was a presidential assassination, there was a Cold War, and there was a "red scare" being led by Ann Coulter's "indispensable Joseph McCarthy." Just as those family-friendly shows (and others today, like Seventh Heaven and anything on the PAX Network) offer conservatives shelter from the storm of the perceived immorality of the present, so they offered everyone shelter from the massive problems that were going on in the 1950s and 1960s.

Nostalgia is pointless. It's looking at the past through an unrealistic filter. I look at it this way: When somebody says something like, "They don't make 'em like they used to," in all likelihood, they still do make some of 'em like they used to. It's just that the only ones (of whatever we're talking about, whether it be cars or movies or houses) that we remember, the only ones that have held up over time, are the ones that were made well in the first place. Every era in history has produced its fair share of crap, but that crap has been mostly lost in the mists of time, and we only see what stood tall enough to show past those mists.

My point? Embrace the changes in society. There's nothing better or worse about a particular time period in history. Every one has its problems, and every one has its advances. Trying artificially to push us into a past that never existed can only be harmful.