Monday, March 29, 2010

Myth of the Golden Age

Recently, I was playing bunco with a bunch of wonderful women. (Yes, I play bunco now. That's another post entirely.) We were taking turns answering questions from one of those ice-breaker books and a really great issue came up.

Do you think the world will be a better place 100 years from now?

I immediately answered "Of course!"

A bit too loudly it turns out because everyone else just as quickly answered no. One woman in particular seemed to be shocked by my answer. As way of explanation, I made the most logical analogy I could which was "Well would you want to live 100 years ago?" This seemed obvious to me - if you think life is better now than 100 years ago, why wouldn't it continue getting better? The march of modern civilization. Yada yada yada.

It seemed just as obvious to me that her answer would be no. Of course she doesn't want to live 100 years ago! As a woman, you couldn't vote, own property in most states, and your husband could beat or rape you with impunity. I mean 1910 was not exactly the year of the woman.

Well, imagine my surprise when she answered yes. In fact, several women in the room seemed interested in the glory days of the early 20th Century - before birth control, before microwaves, before OPRAH.

And the myth of the golden age strikes again.

"Kids these days just don't respect their elders." "Parents just let their children run wild now a days!" "When I was young, people showed personal responsibility."


I understand that it is most likely some basic psychological response that is hard-wired into our brains but just the same. Things really weren't that great 20 or 50 or 100 years ago. I'm 28 and I had friends having sex in 6th grade. My mother is in her 50's. In high school, she wore skirts so short they wouldn't pass a dress code in the tri-state area. My great-grandmother is 98. When Elvis came along, I'm pretty sure he looked to her like the second coming of Satan.

What I'm saying is that we should all just calm the hell down.

I know the internet seems like a wellspring for every form of sexual deviance known to man but it also is source of support and endless information to those who need it. I know that there is some pretty nasty stuff on TV but there is also amazing art that inspires and educates. And I know some kids really don't have any respect for their elders but they aren't the first and I truly believe they are the exception not the rule.

There are some really great kids out there. Kids who will encounter a world full of promise and possibility.

At least I hope so, because I'm currently raising one myself.


heather said...

I cannot imagine a single moment of my life without modern conveniences. When I think that, six years ago, I had a non-email capable phone and a laptop that required an ethernet cord for internet access, I start to break out into hives a little bit. And don't even get me started on the educational and professional opportunities afforded me. Or the wealth of information at our fingertips. It's a pretty darn easy time to be alive.

With that said, I certainly am guilty of romanticizing certain eras of the past century. I'd love to take part in Dottie Parker's Algonquin Roundtables or attend the Lost Generation dinner parties at Gerald and Sarah Murphy's or dance at Studio 54 with Bianca and Halston.

So, I agree with you, just maybe not emphatically. Or maybe I wish one of the awesome technological innovations of our era were a time machine... ;)

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that you can actually kill your baby too--couldn't have done that one (legally) 100 years ago . . .

Jennie said...

There are times that I agree with people about kids not being respectful, and then other times, not so much. I guess it just all depends on the kid and how well that kid knows you. Sometimes, I think that adults think that a kid is being rude, when it's just that the kid is unbelievably shy. You also have to remember that kids are egocentric. Not in a bad way, that's just how their brains are wired! We were egocentric at that age, too. It's not until upper elementary age that a child can begin to understand HOW to empathize (sp?), let alone remembering to empathize on a regular basis.

I am also attempting to raise a young lady. I've already taught her "thank you" in sign language, and I'm now trying to teach her to say "please" when she wants something.

Keep up the good work with Griffin, just remember that you're raising a young man, not a little boy. :)

dylan said...

At least the anonymous commenter recognizes that abortion is by no means a new phenomenon. We could just do like the ancient Greeks and leave the babies out in the wilderness to be eaten by wild animals. Good ol' days!

Anyway, I don't share your rosy view of the future, but it's more the physical world that I have my doubts about, not society going down the tubes. Also, the past sucked, too. Nobody wins.