If I hear one more person propose, in response to an unfortunate event, that “society just isn’t what it used to be,” I’M GONNA SCREAM!!!! Is nostalgia so potent that it blinds us – wipes the memory clean? I submit that the “good old days” weren’t that great. Abuse, divorce, drugs, the atrocities of war…..all those things have been around for ages. Anybody want to return to the days where women were property? Interested in harking back to a time when villages were sacked, homes burned, women raped, children killed all in the name of claiming new territory? When kids duked it out behind the schoolyard? Auschwitz anyone? Slavery? ….I didn’t think so.
There are two significant differences between then and now. The first is technology. Television, internet, newspaper. Nothing is sacred, no story taboo. So we hear about the school shootings, the teenage rampages, the senseless killings, rapes, tortures. Iraq and Afghanistan are right in our livingroom. In previous generations we all had the family secrets – weird Uncle Joe who should not be left alone with children, or crazy Aunt Sara who got into the gin bottle a little too much. We kept it quiet. Divorce was considered shameful, cancer thought to be contagious…we didn’t talk about it.
The second difference is perhaps a by-product of the first: Things are not hidden and because of that we have taught our children to be aware, to be strong, and not to do anything an adult says without question. We have told them to speak up and tell what’s happening. They know not to feel at fault when they’re not. So is it surprising that children now are more outspoken, seemingly less respectful but perhaps also less afraid of adults? Like a pendulum we’ve gone from “don’t ask, don’t tell” to “speak up, speak out.” And maybe right now we’ve swung too far but just as the pendulum will over time begin to lessen its arc and slow down, we will eventually moderate. I for one am grateful that my kids are not afraid to speak up – and yes they do say what they think whether I like it or not, but they are not afraid.
So what do you think? There was a lot of good, there is a lot of good, there will always be a lot of good…..and bad.