Not so ‘good ole days’



Whenever I hear an older person talk about how they long for the “good old days,” I let out a small chuckle on the inside. After all, it’s human nature to be nostalgic for the past, and I’m sure that once you reach a certain age this nostalgia becomes even more commonplace.

But this becomes a serious issue when people start talking about the moral decay of our culture and how we need to “go back to the way things were.” I wish I had a dollar for every time Bill O’Reilly or some social conservative ranted about how we’re declining morally as a society. The times we live in are no worse than in previous generations.

Just look at crime in our country. While it may be easy to watch a murder story on the local news or read headlines of gang violence in Los Angeles or Chicago and deduce that crime is spiraling out of control, crime in the U.S. has been steadily declining since the 1980s, when crime was particularly high and the homicide rate peaked at 10.2 percent per 100,000 citizens, according to national criminal statistics.

In 2011, the murder rate was less than half of what it was in the years leading up to the Great Depression, an era that social conservatives praise. While it was a time of economic prosperity prior to the Depression, it was also a time when criminal organizations and bootleggers ruled major cities.

In terms of family dynamics, social conservatives often point out that families aren’t as close as they once were and that there is no discipline. While I agree that families should spend less time texting and more time conversing at the dinner table, let’s not forget that in previous generations discipline included physically beating your wife and kids. After all, domestic violence was not even taken seriously as a criminal offense until the 1970s.

And while domestic violence is an evil that still plagues our society, we have seen a decline in recent decades. Now it is important to note that whenever I’ve heard someone calling for the “good old days,” it has been a white, heterosexual male almost 100% of the time. Therefore, they forget to factor in that African Americans and other racial minorities were denied many basic civil rights until the 1960s, that the LGBTQ community is still denied many basic human rights and that women were –and in many ways still are –socially, politically, and economically inferior to men. Thankfully, all of this is changing.

A majority of states now recognize gay marriage, the 113th Congress had a record number of females in both the Senate and House of Representatives and a woman is currently the most serious contender for the presidency in 2016. There is nothing wrong with nostalgia for your childhood or moments in your life that made you who you are, but we must remember that what’s good for one isn’t necessarily good for another.