Odd Point of View “The Good Old Days”

by on August 22, 2016

 

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The resistance of human beings to change is legendary. Some people will do anything to avoid it, including wistfully wishing to return to the “good old days.” But, as Billy Joel reminds us, “The good old days weren’t always good and tomorrow’s not as bad as it seems.” (Cousin Kb gave you her opinion on “ Living in The Best of Times,” and now I’d like to chime in.)

Setting: England, early 1381

Two gentlemen sitting in a tavern (let’s call them Sam and Fred)

Sam: Hell of a day. Nobody wants to work anymore.

Fred: You’re telling me! My serfs are working slower and slower, and now, there’s talk that they want Sundays off. That’s just not the Christian way.

Sam: Sunday’s off! Are you kidding? If they get Sundays off, they’ll only start pushing for another day off, or even holidays!

Fred: What is the world coming to? In the good old days, serfs knew their place.

Sam: I knew it! It all started the moment some of the nobles went soft and started teaching them to read. I knew no good would come of it!

Fred: Ingrates! I provide them with hovels to live in and nearly enough food to survive, and only whip them when they deserve it, and this is the thanks I get! No thanks at all.

Sam: Fred, I’m afraid this is just the beginning. Soon, they’ll want to be paid for their work, then to have ownership rights, and who knows, maybe even the vote.

Fred: That’s got to be the wine talking. That’ll never happen!

Sam: I don’t know, Fred. It’s not like the good old days . . .

Later that year, the peasants’ revolt signaled the beginning of the end of serfdom. Queen Elizabeth freed the last serfs in 1574, and serfdom was a thing of the past by 1600.

Setting: Seneca Falls, New York, 1848

Two gentlemen sitting in a tavern (let’s call them Sam and Fred)

Sam: Hell of a day. My wife is giving me fits. She keeps talking about her right to vote.

Fred: You’re telling me! My daughter and wife served me dinner late the other night because they snuck off to a suffrage gathering. That’s just not the Christian way.

Sam: Damn it! Your right, Fred, God put women on earth to serve man. They don’t have any rights that we don’t give them.

Fred: Is that in the Bible?

Sam: It should be, though I haven’t read it all the way through.

Fred: I don’t want to live in a world where women can vote and get paid like men, I can tell you that! In the good old days, women knew their place.

Sam: I knew it! It all started the moment some men allowed them to learn to read. I knew it would all end in tears.

Fred: Ingrates! My wife has second-hand clothes and nearly enough food, and I only hit her when she deserves it. I provide for her every whim.

Sam: This is just the beginning, mark my words. First, they want the vote, then it’ll be equal pay, then equal rights. Just you wait and see.

Fred: That’s got to be the gin talking. That’ll never happen!

Sam: I don’t know, Fred. It’s not like the good old days . . .

The first women’s rights convention was held in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York. Sixty-eight women and thirty-two men signed The Declaration of Sentiments, which set the agenda for the women’s rights movement. The first national convention was held in 1850 in Worcester, Massachusetts. It wasn’t until 1893 that Colorado became the first state to actually grant women the right to vote. On August 26, 1920, women finally got the right to vote, thanks to the nineteenth amendment.

Setting: Georgia plantation, 1862

Two gentlemen sitting in a tavern (let’s call them Sam and Fred)

Sam: Hell of a day. I can’t believe what I have to put up with because of this war of northern aggression.

Fred: You’re telling me! I got word that crazy Lincoln and his Congress have annulled all the slave laws!

Sam: Annulled the laws? Are you kidding? We need our slaves to care for our crops and farm animals. Who will clean the house and take care of the children? Even this glorious war can’t last forever, and if a slave can run off and be free, they’ll all want their freedom!

Fred: Well, I don’t want to live in a world where slaves are free, I can tell you that! I mean, in the good old days, slaves knew their place. They’d never be caught speaking out against a free, white landowner.

Sam: I knew it! The minute I heard that some of the plantation owners had gone soft and were teaching them to read, I just knew that they would get uppity.

Fred: Ingrates! Haven’t I kept them in hovels? Haven’t they always had nearly enough food to survive? Sure, I whip them, but it’s for their own good. Laziness is the devils workshop.

Sam: This is just the beginning, mark my words. Soon, they’ll want pay, then rights, and who knows, maybe even the vote.

Fred: That’s got to be the sour mash talking. That’ll never happen!

Sam: I don’t know, Fred. It’s not like the good old days . . .

Although the annulment of the slave laws occurred in 1862, slavery wasn’t abolished officially by the thirteenth amendment until December 18, 1865. Despite the efforts of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s, it only made dents in the racism that we still fight today. Even today, issues of race are all too common on a daily basis.

I wonder about people who long for “the good old days.” What exactly do they miss? Do they really believe that times were better when blacks were put in their place, women were restricted to the kitchen and bedroom, and only some people were allowed the privilege of an education and the opportunity to better themselves? Or maybe they miss good old diseases like polio or the plague. It seems to me that this is the best time in history to be alive. More people live longer, better, and happier lives than ever before. We still have problems, but can I help it if those damn left-handed fools won’t fall in line. The next thing you know, they’ll want equal rights and scissors made backwards!

P.S. I’m left handed, and I’m not going to take it anymore.

Cousin Craig, back in your place at the end of the table. Now! 

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And think about it, back in the day…NO AMAZON. Just 10 minutes ago I ordered a few things from Amazon that will be delivered this afternoon. How cool is that?? And I placed the order on my I-PHONE. That was just before I ate my delish breakfast while sitting in the Mercedes service department. And this fascinating report is all coming to you through the magic of guest Wi-Fi and the computer sitting in my lap. Life NOW is so darn good!!

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{ 6 comments }

Liz

Life is good. Thanks for the reminder. Change is hard and I think that we have to keep that in mind as we progress forward. My parents aren’t against gay couple marrying but all the other gender stuff has been difficult for them to understand. Especially how open everyone is about it. And my dad still believe women are happiest as mothers and wife’s. I don’t care, he is a product of a different time. He’s a wonderful man, great husband and dad and he can be sexist if he wants—he has promised not to vote for Trump. I’ll take now and Amazon over any other time.

Debbie

Yep, another good one here! Looking back, it’s easy to see how folks have resisted change for centuries. Changes that, today, we see as reasonable and practical. And the very changes that we today might find ourselves resisting could be things future generations take for granted. ‘Tis hard, not having a crystal ball into the future, right?!
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Campo

Fun to think about, isn’t it? I get encouraged by how much change I have been able to see in my life and the way kids look at things like race and sexuality now.

Thanks for reading!
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Campo

I guess we are all creatures of our environment. It isn’t perfect, but it’s a pretty good time to be alive!

Thanks for reading

Mary Liles

I think one of the things we are missing is real front porch connection and neighborhoods that care. I don’t mean to go all Hallmark and I know that not everyone had this kind of connection in the good old days, but I think we had more of it. Everyone is so busy these days. Doing what? I sometimes wonder. There are so many more modern conveniences that are support to create time. I feel very lucky to have children and grandchildren that make me a priority but so many other people really don’t have anyone real in their lives. Otherwise, progress is a good thing in all the ways you mentioned. Old Lady.

Campo

Certainly there are some things that have changed. People move a lot more, you don’t see people staying in one place for thirty years as often, and the food will kill you now. People wonder why they are fat – a hamburger is $1 and a salad costs $7. Certainly there are some things to miss!

Thanks for reading,
C-

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