• Richard Lancaster

Oh, For the Good Old Days


I caught myself using the phrase that years ago I used to poke fun at my dad for using. “It wasn’t as bad as this, when I was a young fellow,” I heard myself say when discussing an issue which seemed important at the time. I followed it with, “The trouble is, it’s not my world anymore!” I could have swallowed my tongue. Honestly!

According to the keeper of all wisdom nowadays - the internet - older generations have always heaped praise on the days of their youth, while roundly condemning the happenings of today and predicting doom and gloom for the future.

Whether it was Manners: “In my day, we kids showed respect for our elders.” Food: “It was fresher and tasted better in my day.” Happiness: “People were happier in my day.” Work: “We knew how to work in my day, none of this welfare stuff!” Morals: Ah well, moving right along!

Evidently, this rose-coloured glasses stuff has been going on even before Adam was a boy. On a recently unearthed Assyrian clay tablet dated around 2800 BC, the inscription read ‘Our earth is degenerating, it is full of bribery and corruption, our children are disobedient and the end of the world is coming!’ In the 5th century BC, both Plato and Socrates condemned their younger generations for being lazy and bad-tempered. Even Aristotle had a go at it. “They think they know everything,” he wrote. In the 11th century, Peter the Hermit loudly proclaimed that youngsters had no respect for their parents or old age! In his case, no one would have heard him as he was a hermit!

In 1948, doom and gloom poet, T. S. Eliot, predicted the decline of world culture. Most would agree that he has been proven wrong, with this planet’s cultural activities rising to great new heights in the last 70 years.

In attempting to make some sense out of this puzzle, ‘1984’ author, George Orwell, said, “Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”

While psychologists and historians try to make sense out of this never-ending cycle of generational conflict, sociologist David Finkelhor from the University of New Hampshire has coined a new term for this age old phenomenon – ‘juvenoia’.

So why is that some of us big note ‘our time in the sun’, and short change current and future generations? Experts say that most of us humans strive to experience new things. They call it our life period of adventure. But as we age and life progresses, we become settled in our ways and our period of adventure diminishes. The realisation that we are no longer part of the adventure, subconsciously both annoys and frightens us. Hence our reversal back to ‘the good old days’.

Personally, I don’t care what the experts think! Mine were the BEST old days!


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