Occasionally I begin contemplating a lot of what people are saying around me. One interesting reoccurrence in the last few weeks is the fact that almost everyone I know that is significantly older than I am thinks that the world was much better when they were growing up. You all know what I am talking about. There is that uncle or older friend who always uses the phrase, “my time,” when reflecting on the problems of today in contrast with their problem-less past.
Just turn on the news or talk to an old-timer and you will usually conclude that 30 to 40 years ago, things were much simpler, less expensive, and all around better. But is this so? Is the world, as these nostalgia-ridden folk would suggest, progressively getting worse?
I am not going to go on the speak of the doom of humanity and the progressive collapse of society—Fox News has that covered so I will leave that to them. The two bigger problems that I see with this “dwelling-on-the-past” sort of mentality is this: What hope and encouragement does this type of thought leave us college-age kids who are about to enter the world; and why are older people so caught up on the past?
First, let us deal with the influence of this nostalgia on the younger generation. To be quite honest, its gets pretty old hearing that today will never be good as yesteryear. I speak to my mother and most of my older family and they are constantly reminiscing on the “good ole’ days.” But were they really that good? Granted that life 30-40 years ago was much simpler and much less expensive, I will have to challenge the thought that it was all around better than today. First, just because something is more complex does not automatically defer it to the “evil” category as some would say. Yes, I am talking to you Grandpa John Doe who despises the smart phone for the simple reason that you do not know how to use it! I have a phone right now that I can check my email on, pay almost all my bills, and call anywhere is the world in seconds. I have saved time, energy, and money with a complex invention that is intended to make life simpler. Again, this generation has greater expense, but with a higher quality of life comes a higher quantity of money to support it.
To be upfront, it is discouraging to hear that the world I am about to enter will never live up to the legend of the “used to.” But, this is not even the biggest and most depressing problem. Some of these same people who salivate over their cherished past miss all of the wonderful things going on right in front of them because of their nostalgia. It is as if their best years are behind them, and the only happiness they will find is in reliving those old memories.
When it comes to time, maybe old does have some greater value than the new. But when it comes to experiences and impactful moments in our lives, we should always look forward to what could and can be. New-borns and new-lyweds far outweigh the old cars and broken dreams (or at least they should).
So this week encourage the generation that come after you. Give us hope that the future can be as good as your past. Look forward and be happy that new things are yet to come, and your best days are not behind you.