Sunday, January 4, 2009

Kids These Days

There was no Golden Age,
Man never lived in harmony,
Eden was never a real place,
Nostalgia with mythology...

Nostalgia is a funny thing. From the Greek words Nostos (home) and Algia (pain) it refers to the pain that we feel longing for a homecoming. Nostalgia makes us believe that the past was better than it was. Inherently the present when viewed with a nostalgic viewpoint is worse than the past and things are continuing to get worse. This generation is more violent, promiscuous, dangerous, evil, etc... than prior generations. The only problem is that it isn't true. Mass media outlets constantly pump us with stories to horrify. The reason that we believe that we're living in a more violent world is because instantly we can see what is going on across the globe. In the past we were restricted to seeing what was going on in our own town or neighborhood, now we are bombarded with images of violence and genocide from across the world. Steven Pinker argued in his article A History of Violence that violence and genocide are becoming less common as we perceive them as becoming more common. He points to the fact that among ancient tribes it was extremely common to kill all males from another tribe and rape all of the females. Where rape is now shunned within our society, just a few generations ago it went completely unnoticed. This isn't because rapes weren't occurring, but because they were unreported and the victim was often found to be at fault, i.e. she dressed too provocatively. Accusing the victim was a large reason why women wouldn't report rapes. Though rapes still occur today, they are
much less frequent per capita.

In the late 1990s Tom Brokaw came out with a series of books on The Greatest Generation. This was a term that he came up for the generation who became adults during the second world war. They grew up making the sacrifices required of them during the depression. Not everyone made these sacrifices prior to and during the war. The poor were the ones who were generally required to make the majority of these sacrifices and they were far from saints. The Greatest Generation
was also the one that gave rise to the violent biker gang once the soldiers came home and needed to raise some hell. This generation also had the greatest spike of divorce rates for any American generation before or since. Soldiers came home and found that they no longer loved the war brides who they married in haste, the war brides no longer loved their soldiers either.

Many choose the 1950s as the most idyllic time when families really got along. They are influenced by the sitcoms of the day which only showed the sunny face of family. Real families were nothing like the Cleavers or the Nelsons. Spousal and child abuse were rampant in the 1950s. A child would need to be severely beaten to arouse a call to Social Services. There were so many ills in the fifties it would be difficult to write about them all. Segregation, hate crimes, alcoholism, prescription drug abuse; all of these things were tolerated. The divorce rate was lower than today, but many women stayed in abusive and unfulfilling marriages out of duty or obligation.

People say that we need to live as the ancients in the bible. This is even worse than trying to live like a prior decade in that it goes back some 3,000 years. There was enough of all kinds of bigotry, vice, god sanctioned genocide, and regular violence and opression to go around.

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Heavy Metal Yogi by Nick Matthaes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.