Reminiscing on the simplicity and gentler pace of generations past
It seems like everybody today is dissatisfied. This dissatisfaction runs the gamut from mildly annoyed, to checking out, to complete despair. I talk to older people who wonder what has happened to their country and the common standards they once knew. I talk to millennials who have isolated themselves in a world of electronics where they can filter their inflow of information down to what they agree with. I talk to teens, who see all of the angry people around them, and wonder what everyone is so upset about all the time.
I must admit that I now fit comfortably into the category of "older people," and I too look back on the nation as it was when I was younger, the fifties, sixties, and seventies, and shake my head at what has happened in the intervening decades, and where it has brought our nation. I realize that those days were not perfect by any means. We had the civil rights movement, we experienced the political assassination of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy, as well as Woodstock and the whole Viet Nam war. But they were a much simpler time; much more "Leave It to Beaver" than most of the younger folks can even fathom.
When I was a kid, life was pretty simple. Our entertainment mostly consisted of playing outside, riding bikes and skateboards, and hanging out with our friends. There were no malls to speak of, so we just hung out at each other's houses, playing catch, or board games. We didn't have cell phones, but the neighborhoods were generally safe, so our parents simply told us to be home by dark and didn't worry about us unless we were late. We didn't lock the doors to our houses, and locking our cars was considered plain silly.
In the evening, we frequently gathered around the television set and watched some shows together. There were only three major networks, and five total channels where I lived, so many of us watched a lot of the same shows, and thus had a common cultural reference. And the shows were entertaining, funny or full of action (often both), but there was no foul language, and no nudity. Most of the shows were in black and white, and those that were in color, like Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and Disney's Wonderful World of Color, were special treats for the rare families that actually had color televisions. We watched a lot of variety shows, with music and comedians that today would be considered completely politically incorrect. But we knew how to laugh at ourselves as well as at others, and realized that, if the target of the comedian was some group that we didn't belong to, in just a minute it was more than likely to be some group that we were a part of.
On Sundays, we went to church, at least the vast majority of us. Even those who didn't go to church respected what the church stood for. Stores were closed on Sundays, so the pace of life on that day was quiet and relaxing, a real day of rest that helped us to recharge our batteries for Monday and a fresh week of work or school.
Some may accuse me of idealism or believe that I lived in a privileged family. But we were actually poor, although I didn't realize that until I was an adult. We lived simply and had to make do a lot. But that was just the way that life was, and it was still good, and pleasant, and enjoyable.
Some "older folks" will read this and nod their heads as they remember their own lives during that time period. Younger people may not be able to relate and may even think that I'm making this up. But it really is the way things were. And it may help some of the younger folks understand what us older folks are talking about when we reminisce, when we wonder aloud what has happened to our country, and what we wish we could return to.
Some may wonder what this has to do with a "Pastor's Perspective". This article is simply setting the table for the next couple that I will be submitting in the coming weeks. Keep reading!