I write about my life and life itself seen through my eyes for who can write through the experiences of others if not their own?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Old Days Were Better

“The past was better”.
I often wonder if this statement, so easily thrown in our faces each time something wrong or perceived as such happens in our present, is true. It implies that we, as a generation, progressively act worse.
Commonly heard is the assumption that children didn’t behave the way they do today when we were growing up.
“I would not be here if I had spoken like that to my parents”.  “Kids don’t respect their teachers nowadays”
And the overall “That didn’t happen in my days”
It begs the question: what didn’t happen in your days?  Misbehavior, mental illness, abuse, crime? 
What elements is this assumption based on? Are we comparing perfect days of the past to not so perfect times of the present? Are we isolating in this comparison small segments of our experience against others totally different?
“When I was growing up” I experienced something different and not all as perfect as what people seem to remember. “Back then” there were the good students and good teachers as referenced today. I had classmates and playmates who were well behaved. Most came from caring families and parents who seemed to always be present. Conversely, there were students who disrespected teachers and their own parents. We seldom saw those parents at any events.  Many of those students came from families where they were neglected and their attitude and physical appearance showed it.  Likewise, I also witnessed abusive teachers who humiliated students who couldn’t keep up with their work or whom they just didn’t like. Some of the students who fell behind had issues. Some might have had learning disabilities to which I don’t remember the school offering help. My mother recalls teachers hitting students on the palm of their hand with a wooden ruler. Thankfully that “rule” had died out by the time I went to school.
Things were not always perfect in the old days. There were kids that went through traumatic issues.  I remember female students that were sexually harassed by their teachers. There was no protection offered by the school. They felt alone.
A classmate committed suicide with her boyfriend because he, darker skin, was not accepted by her family.

A woman was locked out of the house as a child in the freezing cold while her mother drank with her girlfriends. 
There were many cases of incest we all know about.
I pray that the past was indeed different.
People love to venerate a time based on memories made when they were younger and with less responsibilities. The past appears happier when removed from the stress felt during that time.  It’s easier to judge the use of electronics and the perceived loss of personal communication of these days and forget that the conversations of back then were interrupted by the newspaper between dad and the family.

Glorifying the past does not provide an accurate representation of what it was. Things have never been perfect. Not now, not in my time, not before my time. Today, this day, or that day, there have been good hearted people, good loving parents that raise well behaved kids to the best of their abilities, and regretfully also enough misbehaving, crime, abuse.
There are plenty of good things in the present for which to be grateful and there are plenty of things to look at with nostalgia from the past. Find a balance that allows you to enjoy the present so that in a decade or two you can look back and say those days were good.