I think this is a sign that I am getting old - that the people I am listening to and talking with are becoming a bit nostalgic. I get that to some, the world seems darker and scarier than when they were young. I think that comes with aging. A negative view of the following generation, seems to sprout up right alongside the grey hairs and wrinkles.
I wonder when I hear this trope if the people saying it paid any attention in their history classes.
And that is just in the last one hundred years. I taught European history and we could talk for days about the pre-Reformation church selling indulgences to guarantee entry into heaven all while burning "heretics" at the stake. Or the scientists that challenged God by claiming the earth was round or the sun, not the earth was the center of the universe. Or human beings being kidnapped from their homes and put on ships heading toward the new world and a life of slavery.
It is beyond naive to say that the world was a better place in the time of Leave it to Beaver. Sure maybe for some it seemed more idyllic. For people that look like me, the pale white me, life may have been sweeter and more rose colored. But there were cheaters and liars and crooks and abusers and the morally destitute back then too, along with a system of injustice that held too many down and left the power in the hands of too few.
Maybe it wasn't talked about and maybe television shows still had two beds in the parents room but that doesn't mean it was a more moral time. Just ask those who walked in the marches and sat at the lunch counters. Ask the women who stayed with abusive husbands because they had no way out. Ask those living in other parts of the world, parts of the world that were being used as pawns in a ideological war that they had no interest in.
I think that while many more may be comfortable with the legalization of marijuana and the use of contraception now does not mean that we are morally bankrupt. I think it may be more a statement of a generation that wants to be honest at all costs. A generation that is tired of the lies and the shame and the manipulation of a righteous culture. A generation that does not hide any longer but lives in the open. A generation that seeks truth instead of niceties.
While I might be willing to trade places with my counterpart from 50 years ago, so many would not.
So let's stop telling the lie that life was better, more moral, even more Christ like back when.
Seriously, can a generation that fought the Vietnam War, or dodged the draft and protested those soldiers that did, a generation that lived on processed cheese and latch keys, a generation that did cocaine socially and then threw their keys in a bowl, a generation that allowed the government to take on such incredible amounts of debt instead of paying more in taxes, a generation that refused to let their precious white children go to school with the poor dark kids across town, a generation that used God as a token really say that this new generation is more morally bankrupt?
Morality does change over time if you use specific behaviors as a standard. But being honest, being kind, loving others, caring for the poor, protecting the innocent, standing up to injustice, showing mercy and grace, these are what really measures a societies moral fiber.
We need to stop looking at a list of dos and don'ts and start looking at the hearts of people.
Let's stop the rhetoric and start telling the stories that make us better people.