Friday, January 29, 2010

my thoughts on the 'good' old days

There is a blog I have been following for some time now; I like the way the blogger decorates for the different seasons and find her house to be very beautiful. But since reading her latest post, my head has been a whirlwind. Something wasn't sitting right with me, and I was turning her words around and around in my head, trying to figure out why.


Let me explain: in her latest post she described being sick in bed and turning on the television. She described being horrified with what was on tv, and went on to say that she wishes things would go back to the way they were, back to the 'good old days;' she went on to list the things that were so much better back then, such as 'being proper.' And while I understood what she meant, every fiber of my being felt like what she was saying was wrong.

Here's why: The 'good old days' were only good for some people. 

You all know that I am a homemaker; my husband works, I stay home and clean, cook, take care of the bills, buy flowers, walk the dog, paint, and write. I love old-fashioned things, vintage finds, old movies, old photographs, old books, old stories...I love baking and crafting, and before my husband comes home I apply mascara and spritz on some perfume. By any accounts, I'm an 'old-fashioned gal.'

But let me tell you something: I live this way because it's my choice. And I appreciate knowing that if I chose to live differently, I could.

I happened to fall in love with a white man. But I appreciate knowing I could just have easily have fallen in love with a woman of a different race, and could still live a happy, prosperous life without being an outcast. 

I appreciate that I can vote; that I could have bi-racial children without worrying about them not being accepted by their peers; I appreciate that a man who happens to be black is president; that a woman wasn't far behind in the presidential race...and I find it shameful that people who are benefiting from the hard work and bravery of their ancestors complain about trivial things. An ex-boyfriend of mine who I am still in contact with told me that when Obama was elected, his father cried, and said he wished his parents and grandparents were alive to witness this day which they fought for and dreamed of. 

We live in a time of choice; we can choose to turn off the television if we don't like what's on. We can choose what our children watch and read. We can choose to raise our children to be creative, intelligent, wonder-filled, compassionate human beings even though there is trash on television and violent movies and video games. We have a choice.

I don't think a person who is gay, a person who is black, a person who has a child with a disability, a person who is jewish, a person who loves a person of another race or religion, a person who lives as a transsexual or transvestite, would want to go back to the 'good old days.' I don't think my Jewish grandfather, who escape the nazis in Austria by fleeing to Switzerland, would think of those times as 'the good old days.' 

I am happy living right now. I am grateful for the struggles and hard work many courageous people endured for me to be able to have the choices I have. 

Living in this time of choice is an absolute luxury. We need to remember that. We need to recognize our great fortune. We need to understand that, yes, there is charm to an old-fashioned Christmas, and yes, men dressed like gentlemen, and yes, they sure did make pretty things back then. But those are things we can incorporate into our lives if we choose. 

Those are my thoughts.....what are yours?

25 comments:

  1. I'm old enough to know something about 'the good old days'. I have no desire to go back. I was the non-Christian kid in the neighborhood...that wasn't so fun. I was a teenager during the civil rights and woman's rights movement. My first marriage was during a time when women were still seen by law as their husband's property. Nice white girls weren't seen with black boys. I could go on, but you get the point. It depends where you live as to how substantially some of this has changed, but the law has changed. I agree culturally we have become more rude and course, but a return to past times won't change that. Our own realization of our behavior will. My thoughts.

    You can always find 'Leave it ti Beaver' and 'Bonanza" if that's what you want to watch.

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  2. You have written an amazing essay that ought to be read far and wide. You said it beautifully.

    I have not thought of it this way before, but I love what you said about choosing the charming elements of days gone by and incorporating them into today.

    Today, even with our troubles, is really very good.

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  3. I think that it is a wonderful realization that we are free to choose what sort of life we create for ourselves. I have parts of my personality that could quite easily fit in at a past date, but I also have some that might not fit so well... Thank you for such a wonderful posting! There will always be something better and something worse about both past and present, and also future too. So I guess we should just take care of ourselves, care about the world around us and be happy for the time we have right now!

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  4. I am balling right now...to have such an amzing daughter, who can articulate and express her truth in such an uplifting way.
    Thank you Dawn for taking the time to share your thoughts.
    They matter.
    I went to the Sundance festival premier of the movie "HOWL" last night, which was about the beat poet Allen Ginsberg. IN 1955, his poem was a court case, said to be obscene, and only by the good efforts of a courageous young lawyer, the first amendment was upheld.(The poem, to this day, is banned from public airwaves. Really)
    Today,we can be safely in community with people of all walks, as you said.
    You yourself grew up with some of those Beat Poets reciting at your home parties in Bolinas California.Like Joanne Kyger for instance.

    I am SO proud of you!
    Yomom

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  5. i think too often people speak without thinking of what they are really saying. i almost bet anyone of the ones that said that really wouldn't like living in those times at all. i wish that the switch would truly flip over in their minds is that they are really saying is that they wish people had more manners, were polite, friendly and cared more for each other and the strangers - it seems easier and easier these days for people to be so downright cruel and rude. not that is really new - throughout history we've proven that humanity is not really too often humane.

    as far as television goes - yes, i get tried of seeing any thing and everything on television - too often people are paid to trot their entire lives out for public consumption. the thing is...if we turned it all off - then programming would change. i say vote with your money - your money to programmers is advertising. turn the shows off and the advertising dollar dwindle.

    sorry for the blogment.

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  6. What you said was well delivered and got me thinking. :o)

    Since becoming a mother 4 years ago, my life has changed SO much. Though my husband is a design engineer, we struggle on one income living here near the Chicago suburbs. I myself do not own a cell phone, have long-distance service (we get a calling card). I have never owned an IPOD and we have an old tube TV (if it isn't broke, why get new?) 75% of my clothing is bought at thrift stores and I shop at Walmart for our weekly groceries. I feel like I am partially not connected with the high-tech period we are living in. Why? Because this is what I choose, have come to live with and guess what? I am very happy in my life right now. :o) This transition did not come overnight.. I used to work as an esthetician and leave work right for Nordstrom's MAC and Chanel cosmetic counters every Saturday with my wad of tips in my pocketbook ready to spend. Now I shop for CoverGirl (and a little Clinique for a treat a couple times a year.) Just this year I came to the realization that high end cosmetics are not what I need or want anymore to feel happy or pretty. I am an old-fashioned girl now who is so proud to get the privilege to live in this day and age. I think back to the Pioneer Days & can't help but think how hard they had it without running water, etc.. I feel lucky to have those type of luxuries and can just live fine without I-phones or other modern day luxuries. All this to say yes, it's what you choose personally that puts joy and love in your heart and I try to live by the Nursery Rhyme of Old King Cole.. the key to life is to be a merry old soul. :o)
    ~Lara

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  7. i wouldn't go back to those days either...as i am a single woman - who is pursuing adoption ON MY OWN. sure couldn't have done that back in the good old days.

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  8. "Living in this time of choice is an absolute luxury." I couldn't agree more. I may be a bit old-fashioned, but I'm feminist, too. It really bothers me when people wish for the good ole days, because like you said, it was only good for some people. I would never want to go back to those days.

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  9. Oh I agree! The "good old days" were only really good for certain groups of people. I wouldn't go back. Although, there are elements of those times I admire!

    Manuela

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  10. Amen to that!! I don't have much more to add to your post - you articulated the words in my mind perfectly! I live just like you and I am so happy that it's by choice! I would not have done well as the woman I am in the "good old days." Wonderful post!! Love, Silke

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  11. what a powerful post...full of such truth. it's hard to know what to even say because everything you said i agree with...how fortunate i feel to be living today and i have often thought about all the stuggles people faced throughout their lives to get us where we are today. i wish everyone felt the way that you do with such passion...what would this world be like? much different...much kinder...full of acceptance. i love vintage charm but i love being present today...knowing that i can carry pieces of the past into my life but with the freedom to choose what life i wish to live. i love this post...you have given me things to think about and things to be thankful for...
    with love,
    xo.
    k

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  12. the good ol' days...well, i like the old fashion and vintage too....but i also like these times..i look back even just a couple of years ago and wonder what did we do without internet..not to even mention blogs...i think of all that my mom missed..passing away before all of this..and my in-laws..who are 85 years old..but won't own a computer...they are missing so much...

    without internet....we wouldn't have our friendship...

    i saw on some blog the other day...i don't need to see her...to love her....made me think of you and me....

    have a wonderful weekend with Ramon and Kiki...

    love you,
    kary and buddy

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  13. Dawn,

    Well said, beautifully put. I could not agree with any of the points above more. It saddens me to no end to see that people do not see eye to eye on these things. After all, when we're all broken down, we're pretty much identical. Thank you for being so candid in this post and for being proud enough to say it. If everyone thought like you, there would be no wars. This I am sure of.

    xoxo,

    Blair

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  14. I'm with you Dawn.
    Here's a bit about me. My husband is Asian, we have a bi-racial child. My 3 step siblings are all adopted (African-Canadian). My niece and nephew have Italian, Irish, Jamaican, Ecuadorian, and Lebanese heritage. My aunt is lesbian. We have a multi faith family (Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Canadian Aboriginal and Atheist).
    We are a beautiful and diverse family and want to know the best part? We all get along and respect each other for our uniqueness.
    I truly believe that my colourful family is a result of the freedoms that my country holds so dear. Gay marriage is a RIGHT here. Our country is multicultural. You would not have seen a family like mine in the good old days. Yes some of the charm of the old days is lovely but I like what you said, the good ol days were only good for some people.
    Love this post. You made me love you even more.

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  15. We can all celebrate that the world has changed enough for the USA to elect an African American as President.

    But, that does not make him a wonderful President.

    You talk a lot about rights in this post, which I think are the most important thing a government can protect for its people.

    But, this administration wants to curtail our rights, including not letting us pick the health insurance that we want and putting us in jail if we refuse to buy health insurance from the government. And they are telling women not to get mammograms until they are beyond 50+ because the cost/benefit analysis is not good. Tell that to someone with breast cancer at 30!

    I'm so sorry but this administration is not for people's rights which is the foundation of the USA.

    I have read your comments about Obama before and this time I had to say something. I think he is a good husband and a good father, but he is not a good President.

    I probably won't be welcome back here (LOL), but I had to say something.

    We are facing a crisis right now in the US and people must speak out.


    Elise

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  16. Thankyou Dawn, you wrote beautifully and I agree with everything you wrote.
    I am from a very dysfunctional family and a time when family violence and child abuse was kept hidden and all the victims suffered badly. I am so glad of the changes in the last few decades.
    No matter when we live, there is a need to fight for justice and kindness and to celebrate the good things of life - and here you are doing it right now!
    Thankyou again!

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  17. It's been so interesting reading about how you and your families are benefiting from this time of choice and many freedoms.

    Dear Elise, your thoughts are welcome here. I think it's important that people of different opinion communicate and discuss, peacfully, respectfully.

    I value all of your thoughts and stories. Johanna....your family is an amazingly beautifully example of the progress that has been made.

    xo

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  18. Hi Dawn!
    I started writing something here last night but my English failed me badly! So here it goes in simple terms: the only things I like about the 'good old days' are these: the fact that the pace of life was slower most of the times and that there was no tv (my dad tells us all these wonderful stories of how they used to spend their evenings). Other than that, I'm immensely grateful for 'the luxury of choice', oh yes, I am. The hardships are more or less the same work-wise but our everyday lifes are much easier. I also find relationships more real nowadays.
    Have a lovely weekend!

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  19. Dawn, Dawn - so right & in tune with my feelings, as I always find you to be. Whenever I yearn to be back in certain times (my favourite fantasies are 1785, 1805, August 1914, 1920,1935, 1940,& 1945!) I only ever mean that I'd like to be whisked back for an hour maybe - a glimpse into another time & place, maybe a conversation with someone about how their life really was then...but always, always coming home soon afterwards (maybe with a souvenir in my pocket!!) I think we often take for granted the rights & privileges that we have today- the travel, foods,warmth, water always available, let alone the human rights aspect which is massive. A hundred years ago - even 60 in some cases - I wopuldn'thave even been allowed a bank account without the written permission of my husband! Even in the past 10 years, things have improved in subtle ways we don't even realise sometimes. As Kary said, the internet (used properly) is one of the joys of my life, sometimes I feel I wouldn't exist without it. We are all products of our time, and have to learn to appreciate all that we have while embracing & appreciating the legacy of all those who have gone before to light our way. Have a wonderful weekend. Rachel xoxox

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  20. Thank you for your post. I think most people who say "the good old days" really aren't remembering how challenging times where. I remember thinking as a child my life would be over in a big flash after my school handed out a pamphet on what to do during a nuclear explosion. The government was trying to calm our fears-people were still building bomb shelters. There have always been trying times. As the mother of a gay man I can say we still have a long way to go concerning giving everyone the right to marry. Thanks again for reminding us that the good times may have not been so good for everyone.

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  21. Country Girl -

    Exactly.

    It took me a couple years to realize that I, too, have many old-fashioned traits. But, I didn't fully understand how to embrace those aspects until I understood the concept of choice. Choice is freedom. I'm very lucky to have a strong, courageous friend like you to support those qualities, one who understands and models choice and empowerment.

    As for our president, it even surprises me a bit that I still feel my heart busting out of my chest every time I watch him speak, or maybe even more strongly when I watch our first lady's guidance and grounded love. And the pure joy of their children. A lovely gift. The best part is, their race is both the reason I feel so proud and not at all the reason I feel so proud. He is who he is because of his race and yet, he chooses to not use it divisively. He chooses to live as ONE. Wow.

    Great post! From a great lady...

    xo
    Organic Spark

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  22. Incredibly well written and thoughtful post - I can't believe I almost missed it! Really insightful...I often get nostalgia and ache for 'bygone days' but you are completely right.

    Rather than aching so much for a seeminly idyllic past that actually wasn't so idyllic because we are only looking at it from one angle, we should consider all the good that we have now in our modern world and appreciate it but still see there is work to be done to improving it further still and then, with that understanding, we can reach into the past and select all the good 'idyllic' aspects and elements and incorporate them into our today - but leave all the nasties behind...and strive to keep it that way...the good traditions alive... it is about progress but in a good way - so we don't end up damaging our planet for the generations to come. xxx

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  23. PS Just reading back through the posted comments...I'm a bit erm ignorant. I don't really understand the issues with the whole health bill in the US... in the UK we have a National Health service and it provides for everyone -rich and poor. Surely a free health service in the US would be a good thing? It would help those with no money get the medical care they need? In the UK we still have private health care alongside the national system so people can still opt for 'better' care if they so wish... Maybe I am badly informed but I just don't understand why people are so outraged in the US about this proposal - surely it is a good thing? Maybe not for rich doctors and insurance companies but...? I'd love someone to explain it to me a bit better... xxx

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  24. I read that post on the other blog you mentioned. True, the 'good old days' were not good for all, and today, the days are not good for all. Yes, we have choices--we've always had choices--God gave us a 'free will'. But the Bible verse that came to my mind was: "There is a way which seems right to a man, but it's end is the way of death." (Proverbs 14:12). I have the 'freedom' to choose whatever I want to do, but if it is not within the will of God, I will suffer the consequences. What we sow, we shall also reap. A person that sows to the flesh, reaps corruption. No good can come out of sin, as God cannot bless sin---I've discovered that! But we don't have to pay the price for our sin, we can accept the free gift ('choice'!) of Jesus dying on the cross in our place--He paid the price for sin, so that we wouldn't have to. We have the choice to accept that gift
    or not. Which ever way we choose, will determine the outcome of our life. On another note, if people would realize that there is one 'race'---the human race, (God place the DNA for every skin color, eye color, etc. in Adam and Eve) we would not have division over skin color. I don't care if Obama is purple or green stripes with polka dots, what matters is his heart. God looks at our hearts. But I am deeply grieved and saddened by the choices Obama has made, especially in regards to his blatant disregard for human life in the womb. Dawn, you yourself know you lost a baby-- a human. It sickens me to know that women are choosing (choice!) to allow a doctor to violently remove a human life from their womb and throw it in a dumpster or to incinerate the baby. We are back to choices... good choices, bad choices... God is the judge of good or bad choices--not us.

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