The "Good Ol' Days" Might Not Be
In the Greg Iles novel, Mississippi Blood, Penn Cage’s sister, Jenny says to him: “I think you want Ward and June Cleaver back.” Without explaining the context for this quote, the inclination still rings true for many. The idealized life portrayed in Leave It to Beaver, Father Knows Best, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and I Love Lucy pull us sentimentally backward to times often characterized as “the good ol’ days.”
Bob Dylan put it this way:
Come mothers and fathers / Throughout the land
And don't criticize / What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters / Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one / If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'
History – ANY history of any time and place – has its good and bad points. Of course, we want to learn from and hold onto the good . . . although battles rage over what’s good and what isn’t. But not only are the times-a-changin’. . . they have changed. The first acknowledgement is that Beaver Cleaver, Jim Anderson, Ozzie Nelson, and Lucille Ball – whether on their shows or in real life – were not perfect paradigms of the best way to think and act. They did what they could with the knowledge and resources of their day. As we must also do.
While the Simon Legree’s (Uncle Tom’s Cabin) of the past are dead and buried, the David Dukes and Richard Spencers live on. Hundreds of years ago scientists of the day were condemned for proposing that the earth is round, but the Flat Earth Society today exists. In other words, looking backward is not always good or sane.
History is history. Attempts to learn profitably learn from it is always the goal. Today is today . . . with all of the information, discoveries, and progressive wisdom that they didn’t have in, say, 1776 or 1968. We plan for the future as best we can while we live for the day that is before us.