Dr. Spudman44

Dr. Spudman44
Tumbleweed, Washington,
June 06
Dr. Spudman's 44 Ripples of Hope Creations
BANNER BY RICTRESA I live on the border of Eastern Washington and Idaho. I have been a teacher, coach, and mental health worker. I make books for people and write some myself. I tutor a few people. Come visit me at my website. It has some cool stuff. Scroll down to links and click on www.drspud44.net


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MARCH 25, 2009 12:56PM

The Myth of the Golden Past

Rate: 24 Flag


You hear it all the time. I catch myself doing it on occasion myself. I am talking about idolizing the past and lamenting how bad everything is now. It may be fun to chat about the good ol' days but they are largely a myth.



You know, the times when men where men and the women damn glad of it! The great times when you all went to school, everyone was constantly respectful and well-behaved and cared only about learning. Yeah, right! The great times somewhere in the past when politicians really listened and worked for us. The time when there weren't all the problems with drugs and crime. Could we all stop eating from our bowls of Dreamos and focus on exactly when was this Golden Age?



Was it in the early 1900's when capitalism was not at all controlled, child labor was common, six percent of the society graduated from high school, kids used to picket to have the right to attend school, railroad workers would lose an arm on the job and receive five dollars and their walking papers, monopolies controlled most of the economy and life expectancy was in the mid-fifties? No, it couldn't have been then.



Then it must have been just before the 1920's. Oops, did you forget about a little conflict called World War I? Okay, it must have been the Roaring Twenties. Let's think about that for a moment. Along with the Charleston wasn't there this little thing called Prohibition that allowed the gangsters to take over many of our cities? I seem to remember that decade ended with the stock market crashing and people diving out of windows. The thirties? Few are silly enough to claim unemployment rates over 25% and people waiting in line in our cities for a bowl of soup and an apple was a golden time.

man eating at soup kitchen



It certainly couldn't have been the forties with Hitler threatening and almost succeeding in taking over the world, murdering millions of Jews and throwing the world into the most terrible global conflict in the history of the world. I know, I know...It was the 1950's.


Leave it to Beaver, I Love Lucy, Rock-n-Roll and total peace. Hate to bum you out, but how about the South's discriminatory policies, including separate drinking fountains, bathrooms and the shame of segregated schools. I was in grade school during this decade. I can remember how kids made fun of handicapped children and how what we now  call Special Education students were segregated in separate schools or in bleak classrooms in the basement near the furnace. Oh, there was that little conflict called the Korean War. Hmmmm... The 1960's?



Beach Boy music, skateboards and the Beatles were pretty great. But yikes, what about the assassinations of President Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr and campus unrest and the bodies coming home daily from the Vietnam War? Millions of us actually saw the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald on live television.



There were problems in the decade of the 1970's including the continuing of the Vietnam War and the shame of the thousands of needless deaths there, Watergate, a psychotic president and the energy crisis. Iran took over our embassy and held hostages. The eighties and 1990s are too recent to be called the “Golden Age”.



Yes, we have problems now. There always have been. It just doesn't help things to spread myths about how great things were in some mysterious time long ago. It is not a harmless myth either. It causes people to see only the bad in modern life and ignore the good. It causes young people to become depressed and feel they are doomed. It gives fuel to End of Times believers and makes people give up.

The next time you hear me or yourself spouting about how great things were, look around for a moment or two. Aren't computers amazing? Haven't we made progress in nearly every aspect of life over the years? I have met two people in the last week that would be dead if not for the incredible advances in the medical field. People live longer, are more educated and despite the Iraq debacle and our involvement in Afghanistan the world is more peaceful than ever. We fly cross-country or across the oceans in a matter of hours and bitch if our plane is an hour late, on trips that used to take weeks or months not so long ago. Minorities are more integrated into all aspects of modern life, than ever before. We have recreational time that our ancestors could not even imagine.



We even have time enough to spout nonsense about how great it was back in the ol' days.

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Ahh, the good ol' days.
"I can remember how kids made fun of handicapped children and how what we now call Special Education students were segregated in separate schools or in bleak classrooms in the basement near the furnace."

That'd be my sister..... :(
"You can get just so much from a good thing
You can linger too long in your dreams
Say goodbye to the "Oldies But Goodies"
Cause the good ole days weren't always good
And tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems"

Billy Joel

The "Good Ole' Days" - lessee, that was, um - ten years ago? Maybe? ;-D

But this makes the argument for end times. Can't be destructive forever. War is growing, not fading away. Look at ALL the armed conflicts around the world, you think there's no war in Africa or South America or that Mexico is not becoming destablized? Resources are shrinking, we are completely dependent on an energy flow that is completely unsustainable which will result in food riots and the spread of even more poverty (we already had a taste of this with the oil spike that can only return). Global warming is almost - if not already - to the point of irreversability.

These are just a few outward signs of our sick human souls - and it is our souls that determine our fate.

There's no point in lying about these days either. We are not on the path to love and healing which means we are on the path to self destruction. It's like being an alcoholic. There's no virtue in denying it. If we don't admit we're fucking up, were never going to do anything to stop it.
Thanks for shaking us all back to reality. I came up with a saying for myself that I share with my clients: "It's easy to idealize choices not made." We tend to do that with our past. We idealize what it could of/should have been like. Or we forget the negatives of the past and only focus on the positives (this isn't a bad thing to do really) or what is more common, especially when marriages are deteriorating, we rewrite our marital history in the worst of ways. A little off topic, but this is what your post triggered for me. Rated.
Agreed! Oh, how I don't miss the good old days!
I'm old enough to have *some* perspective on change and the past. As years go by, many things improve and at the same time, we lose and discard valuable things. The net change results in vastly improved lives for some people and yet we've lost much.

Some look upon the past as the "good old days" and others are under the impression that we are now so enlightened and much better people now. Neither is quite right.

I live by and with the computer and internet. It's a huge and important part of my life and yet I know that it is at the cost of things I used to spend time doing. We still have only 24 hours a day to use.

If you'd like to have a look at 1900 from the perspective of current reporting of the time, take a look at my series, "Life at the Turn of the Twentieth Century". One misconception is that because life expectancy was lower, there were few people living into old age. Not true. The averages were driven down by deaths of infants and children; many lived to be old.
What a brilliant post. I hope you don't mind my posting it to my facebook account.
However, I do worry that things are worse for children than when I was growing up or when my daughters were growing up, 27-36 years ago.. Children's being diagnosed with mental illness in such large numbers is a red alert. Do we prefer drugging little kids to radical social change? I have taken some of these meds; even my intellect, education, and many thousands of books read collapsed under their onslaught. What they are doing to children's brains is almost too horrible to contemplate.
It's possible that the nostalgia has more to do with our preference to remember the good rather than the bad aspects of the past. How often does a not-so-dearly-departed become sainted as time passes after the funeral? Better, though, with historical comparisons to include a little realism. Rated for reality check!
I couldn't agree more. Rated.
I have had this very same agruement. With my kids who idolize the sixties and seventies. I have never found this 'wonderful time' in history. ever.
Good post here. Well written and well illustrated.
Mighty thought provocing
Great post. There are so many issues you raised to comment on but I'll keep it succinct with this: "this little thing called Prohibition that allowed the gangsters to take over many of our cities?"

With drug gansters taking over Mexico, lost tax revenues and so many american citizen in jail that we can't even afford to house them anymore, isn't it time we ended marijuana prohibition?

Harry Homeless: You have a point that the modern time are not without their challenges but what times didn't have them?

Sure there are wars all over the globe but there always have been. It don't know if it's true that this is the most peaceful time ever but I don't know that it's not either.
I liked this post-rated it as a matter of fact. But there is one statement that screams FALSE:

'the world is more peaceful than ever'

Don't know which world you're rhapsodising about ; here on Earth, Africa and the Middle East are definitely not "peaceful." Of course, they're very far away-I suppose it makes it easier for us to forget just how dire circumstances are there, no matter how many horror stories we see in the media. But Mexico is right next door to us, and 'half' of my family-my husband's half-lives there. My mother in law used to plan trips for us to come and visit years and years ago-when we were too young and poor to travel. Now that we can afford it, she has expressly told my husband that he is NEVER, under any circumstances, to bring myself or our children to Mexico, because it "isn't safe for them anymore."
He went by himself last year, and was afraid for his own safety the entire time. Not so peaceful.....
This reminds me of the great line by Patti Smith: "I haven't fucked much with the past, but I fuck plenty with the future." (from Babelogue)

Words to live by. All we ever really have, is Now. Great post.
Hear, hear! It is human nature to wax nostalgic but speaking for myself, I do think that some things were better, at least in the rainforest where I live. There was a lot more of it for one thing, and wildlife, too.
Donna! I love that Patti Smith quote. So true.
Spudman, great thought provoking post. I agree...I can't remember my past decades as the "good old days". Today is much better...at least for me...seeing as I am a middle aged white american with a college education (read: very privledged in this world). I don't say those things about my self and feel smug. Rather, I feel pretty damned grateful. I do know, on the other hand, what Harry is talking about and I agree with him also. Unless we look clearly at WHAT we are f*ing up and HOW we are f*ing up and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT our kids will have nothing. I think that most privledged folks just keep on keeping on...sleeping soundly and not worrying about the future.
Maybe just being aware, conservative with our resources, promoting peace and justice, encouraging (financing) education, and reaching out...maybe, just maybe we can create a good old days that we can all agree on.
Sorry for the mini rant. Some people call me pollyanna lou.
Excellent post and writing. (Rated for sure, for the memories of that whole "Draft thing" , gas lines, economic downturns, horrific assassinations and such)
Interesting comments. I wish I would have be here in real time to interact, the real world interfered. Thanks one and all for reading and commenting.
Yeah I really don't know what I would do without computers. Just wrote a post about false nostalgia too. My New Year's resolution was to stop being so nostaligic.
There is no past to touch or hold. It's all in our minds. And you're right, we only remember the good stuff. We have selective memory.

The only thing we have is the present since the past no longer exists. And the future hasn't happened yet, so the present matters the most.

But as humans the ability to remember the past helps to define the present and plan for the future. So what we do, how we think, and all the feelings and emotions we experience are subjective.

So if we didn't have that past as a sort of shiny object to look at sometimes, there would be no OS. We'd all be the same, dull individuals, thinking and feeling the same thing over and over again.
Great post and great photo, things are always better in a hammock. Yes some things were better for some people. For instance I remember only my father worked and made about 15,000 annually but our house, a 3-bedrooom two-story house on about half an acre in NYS was 12,000. That was 48 years ago, and that I miss. I have to remind myself often of the things you list here, all very valid points and listed in a well-written flow with some intriguing observations. Thank you. These are all good points to remember.