Of all the vices that beset our culture, “Nostalgia is the vice of the aged!” Returning to a moment-in-time or event in yesteryear that beckons one, offering a level of comfort, consolation or reverie. Were they the “Good ole days?” Actually, the degree varies from generation to generation. Memories are selective, and at times, misleading. If one isn’t cautious when drawing conclusions from such rendezvous. It’s understandable for older generations to reflect backwards to a time that stands in stark contrast to the present day. For good reason, some conclude.
Comedian, and TV host of the first 1954, “Tonight Show,” Steve Allen, wrote more than fifty books. In 2001, his last, was a scathing rebuke that blasted modern entertainment, “Vulgarians at the Gate: Trash TV and Rauch Radio.” He understood the precipitous slide of smut in our culture was anything but comedic.
Our current moral landscape has been radically altered, nearly unrecognizable to survivors to from the nineteen-fifties. For example, the major problems for educators at that time were truancy and students sticking gum under their desk. A doctor visited our home when we were ailing. In some areas of the country there’s a resurgence of that kind of care. Doctor Jonas Salk, unselfishly gave us polio vaccine, to combat the most frightening and dreaded health problem in the U.S. of the post war era. When asked who owned the patent, he replied, “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?” Ask the CDC head, Dr. Anthony Fauci, “How many patents do you own?”
Teachers were in charge at school then. Fear of the dreaded, oft used paddle that hung prominently above the principal’s desk, served both as a deterrent and reminder of what would befall youthful violators of school and parental codes. Recalcitrants defiance was short-lived, and the subsequent note home usually garnered another “reminder” for the offspring.
Try paddling a wayward student today, the educator’s career is toast, and criminal charges will follow. Most school boards weren’t rogue elitist in that era, as today, running rough-shod over engaged parents with “Woke policies” inimical to learning outcomes. Hyper protection of the LGBTQ students overshadows other student’s interest, as teachers are distracted from pedagogy, spending inordinate class-time as a therapist/babysitter/caseworker.
We were surrounded back then by a neighborhood consensus-a hedge against those bent on skirting prevailing values. Formerly safe schools have been supplanted by security officers, armed guards, and metal detectors, while principals and educators are shackled and hamstrung by politically correct “Woke” school boards. The PTA is a hollow shell of its former self. The NEA’s a haven for Left-wing zealots, and a fundraising arm of the Democrat Party. Regrettably, too many teachers find themselves lonelier than the Maytag repairman, at parent-teacher conferences nationwide.
By contemporary metrics, small screen classics like “Father Knows Best” “Dennis the Menace” “Leave It To Beaver” and “The Red Skelton Show” are characterized as “corny” “square” and “wholly unrealistic.” Nevertheless, they reflected the values of that time. It wasn’t perfect. There were divorces, alcoholics, charlatans, deviants, thieves and liars. However, those transgressors weren’t the standard. TV networks executives promoted an “ideal” to aspire to, therefore, when the mother and father, as central figures in “solving the family problems” reached a conclusion, only a small slice of the public disagreed. It’s clear, those days are gone, to return nevermore, unless one stumbles on Me-TV. The current menu of TV sitcoms, offer an array that reflect the values of this drifting culture-sordid and ribald humor-appealing to the lower nature, with scant redeeming value, backed by powerful advertiser’s dollars.
Pornography was available back then. Those with concupiscent cravings were forced to frequent “back alley” establishments-where they belonged. Today it has reached pandemic proportions on the internet under the guise of free speech. In 2017, sixth graders from a Colorado school district were discovered exchanging nude photos like baseball cards. Their chat room is their “back alley.” Guardians of their souls are distracted with making a living-and living in denial. Mass shootings are routine, as pubic schools are now war zones. We toted guns to school for show-and-tell, with parental permission, in our Indianapolis neighborhood in the 50’s without massacres. Then, “Coming out of the closet,” meant we’d finished dressing. Today it’s a public heralding that another Tinsel Town star, athlete, or notable public figure is a homosexual or lesbian, with great fanfare intended to normalize that lifestyle.
A Golden Era? In some ways. Idyllic? Rarely. Perfect? No! Those times and heroes have one thing in common-they’re gone. We’ll need a new cadre of heroes and Patriots. Today i-Phones connect us worldwide-for good or ill. Facebook, both a bane and blessing, is a social network that touches a billion souls on this planet. Banking, printing and photo shop in the palm of one’s hand. The genie’s out of the bottle.
Caught betwixt technology and nature, we’ve harnessed the atom and solar power, but we can’t bridle our salacious and a malevolent appetites. In 2022, South New Jersey schools installed Narcan kits in 150 buildings to combat growing, unbridled student drug overdoses from fentanyl.
Unlike the secularist, Evangelicals understand the consequences of our individual and corporate depravity. It’s not the corruption by erring institutions, but one’s own inclination for self-serving and tolerating personal corruption. Cupidity reigns and the proclivity for the temporal still vexes the eternal, even though there’s misunderstood internal appetency for redemption. The God Who is there, speaks through this technology to fulfill the Great Commission, by loosening the Gospel to the unreached corners of this planet.
Those concerned with our vexing culture acknowledge there’s no resting on our laurels of the past. Indifference and complacency masquerades as passivity. The longing for a kinder, gentler time has been eclipsed by the reality of the day. It’ll require more than a knee-jerk reaction or pandering to generations that perplex or confuse us. Engaging millennials and generations X, Y and Z, though daunting, is non-negotiable.
Younger generations may be ready to face the reality of their “it’s all about me” root they’ve swallowed, that left a bitter taste, as they’re facing the impregnable issues of our time, that has forged a vacuum in their lives. It may render them open to embracing a set of values, that heretofore, were unpalatable for contemplation. Those of us who are convinced that our Constitutional Republic is in jeopardy, and understand virtuous liberty is not self-perpetuating, are willing to engage this obstreperous generation with renewed vigor.
Offering time-tested, immutable Biblical principles, will be our greatest legacy to generations we’ll never see. Their embrace isn’t assured. Like it or not, our aging generation must admit, for now, these are the “good old days.” Make no mistake, “Good old days” mean the time is now to throw down the gauntlet. Why did the wisest man ever, until Jesus Christ, Solomon, expressly cautioned us in Ecclesiastes 7:9, “Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’” He didn’t say why. Perhaps focusing on the past robs one of the gift of the moment. As one pursues life more vigorously, the need for the rear view mirror world diminishes.
Going forward’s about diligently engaging one’s heart, mind and gaze on the menacing road ahead. It’s not for the faint hearted. Nostalgia’s a place to visit-not a refuge from engagement. Interestingly, in Greek, the language of the New Testament, “nostalgia” literally means “the pain from an old wound.” Stop picking that scab. It’s appropriate that we extol our Founders and Patriots, who fought and laid the cornerstone of liberty. Our appetite for a more idyllic time is understandable. However, today is our time to wage war for virtuous liberty and righteousness. Few advocate ignoring the past. Our challenge is the choice set before us-good or evil. Ours is a spiritual battle demanding spiritual eyes to see and spiritual ears to hear. Like a slow train coming, what was once unthinkable, is tolerable, then acceptable, codified, with uncontrollable consequences, becomes mainstream.
Existential fulfillment from the past is a cruel taskmaster. We hold no sway over yesterday. There’s no promise of tomorrow. “Good ole days” in the sense it’s ours to capture, understanding our struggle isn’t against flesh and blood-but enmity between good and evil. It isn’t the 1950’s. Our marching orders are ancient. Dare we remain silent? Thomas Paine wrote, “It is the duty of every man, as far as his ability extends, to expose delusion and error.” What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email’s firstname.lastname@example.org.