Sunday, December 26, 2004


It's That Time of the Year

It's that time of the year when I receive in greater number those e-mails wherein the author reminisces about how life was experienced decades ago and was much better than today. I receive these e-mails from friends and family because they also wish for times past when everything was perfect and life was simple. Frequently included are pictures interspersed with text to reinforce the message. Pictures of small churches with tall steeples, farm animals and barns, telephones with a number dial, an old television with an image of Steve Allen, a perfect family where the mother always wears a dress and the father wears at least dress slacks and tie, mid-fifties cars, maybe a Norman Rockwell painting, an old cash register, and a maybe a 45-RPM record.

Idyllic. Memories tend to reflect the better parts of life and events in the past. That's human nature, I suppose.

So I'm here to burst that bubble.

Life was not perfect. Fifty years ago drug abuse was denounced as the ruination of civilization, a plague that was overtaking our children (civilization, like drug abuse, is still here and still
overtaking our children). It was a time of Jim Crow where black folks experienced not just discrimination, but wholesale violence in our uniquely American tradition. America ignored - as it had for over 100 years - the problems of alcoholism and personal disasters caused by drunkeness. Society and families swept under the carpet acts of violence and sexual assault against children. Back then a woman raped had it coming and belonged in the kitchen quietly accepting her fate in life. Religious services did not include a heavy dose of politics and instruction on how to vote; indeed, the separation of church and state was politely observed. Governmental corruption was just as prevalent but today it's legal. People of every stripe couldn't find a job because some horse's ass accused them of being Communist - even though such an accusation was unproven, nor was membership in the Communist Party was illegal. Pollution was the norm and a fire on a river was a curiosity. The radio dial airwaves then had it's share of pollution, but it has increased so that today we have completely new category: hate radio. An employee and chief executive fulfilled their entire career under one company name and the CEO's pay did not generate accusations of greed.

Times were different back then. In some ways.

Were times better back then? Maybe. Maybe not.

Life was not perfect: look back with your eyes wide open.

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