Friday, May 30, 2014

Cherry Picking the Good Ol' Days

I read an article today called Why Your Grandparents Didn't Have Food Allergies. . . But You Do. I didn't love the article, mostly because I don't have any major qualms with genetically-modified foods or food additives (See The Case for Genetically-Modified Food), and I am a strong proponent of modern medicine, particularly immunizations. But you've all read my posts on those topics.

Here's what I don't know about: the claim that my grandparents really didn't have food allergies. Maybe that's true; I don't know. (If someone out there can point to some reliable sources on this, I would be very grateful.) This idea that people in the past did things better or had better lives . . .  I mean, who can say?  It's especially easy to extol the everyday physical stuff, such as the way people ate or exercised, but when we talk of mores and values and social programs, not a lot of people mention those "good ol' days."  Does every generation, then, decrease in understanding where physical well-being is concerned, yet increase in understanding where cultural and political issues are concerned?  That just doesn't make much sense.

Aside from the content of it, this article got me thinking about how and why we either value or don't value "the good ol' days." And who's to say what those days are? Some people point all the way back to the Paleolithic Age, claiming that our "caveman" ancestors practiced the best eating habits and knew the proper way to give birth. Others praise the qualities of "The Greatest Generation" or the 1950s way of life. Everyone has their own version of "the good ol' days," and somehow, they decide what constitutes the "good."

I say "they," but of course, I should say "we" because I do it, too.  I think my version is sometime between 1940–1990, and I think these are some things from that 50-year span we have lost:

  • Good penmanship
  • Regular family dinner, eaten at a table and without a TV on
  • The opposite of helicopter parenting, whatever that's called
  • Classic sitcoms (e.g., "Cheers," "The Cosby Show," and "The Brady Bunch")
  • No smartphones
Conversely, here are some things that are definitely improvements on those decades:
  • Smartphones
  • Laparoscopy
  • Nanotechnology
  • Better understanding and treatment of mental disorders
  • HGTV

Readers, what do you think we've lost? What do you think we've improved on?

Thing I'm thankful for: freshly-baked tortillas


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha! I was just thinking about this today when I read my yogurt container. It said something along the lines of Nature's been getting it right for a long time (no preservatives, antibiotics, etc. etc.). And I though to meself: Yes, and let's ignore that "nature" (whatever that is) on its own has led to a significant number of people dying of starvation and disease. And so on and so forth.

a few things lost (as a whole, of course; always exceptions): respect for parents; faith in God; sense of financial responsibility; truly appreciating educational opportunity (in large number we read and write--awesome!)

Gained: Education for almost anyone who wants it (in many US and many countries, at least); Medial advances in "little" things like plastic surgery and orthopedic surgery and dentistry that allow us to keep body parts and look normal and so on and so forth; Criminalization of domestic violence; More equality for women (compared to the past).

4:40 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Hmmm . . . Dunno who you are, Anon., but I like your comment!

5:50 PM  

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