Saturday, April 16, 2011

“Whence This Nostalgia?”

I’m not picking on any one individual, but I see posts on Facebook from time to time that follow this formula:

“If you grew up on home-cooked meals, you rode a bike with no helmet, your parents’ house was not ‘child-proof,’ you got a whippin' when you misbehaved, had 3 TV channels you got up to change or went outside to turn the antenna, school started with the Pledge of Allegiance, stores were closed on Sunday, you drank water out of a water hose and still turned out okay, re-post this.”

OK. Here are my comments.

1. Are “home-cooked meals” really better for you than meals prepared in other places and other ways? I grew up in the South where a common ingredient of “home-cooked meals” was lard. Now that’s healthy, right? I also note that a large portion of the American population is obese today. I’m sure eating away from home at “all-you-can-eat buffets” contributes to that condition, but I suspect that most of the bad eating habits begin and end with home-cooked meals consumed in extra-large portions. Quite frankly, I long more for families sitting down at the table and praying together, eating balanced meals together, and talking over the day’s events than I care about how or where their food was prepared.

2. I had many a bicycle accident in my time; and by the grace of God I didn’t end up with a brain injury; but why should I feel nostalgic about preserving a tradition that exposes someone else to that possibility if the possibility might be lowered by wearing a protective helmet? I guess those who are opposed to mandated helmets on bicycles and motorcycles or mandated seatbelts in vehicles won’t expect my health insurance company (or God forbid the government) to pick up the expenses for their injuries, their prolonged unconsciousness, their rehabilitation, and their long-term care when they are mostly brain-dead. I’m all for every protective device that helps to prevent concussions, brain injuries, broken bones, or any other physical (or emotional) injury that is preventable.

3. Let me be honest. I love my children and my grandchildren. I want my house to be as child-proofed as possible. I will do whatever I can to protect the people I love. I’ll cover exposed electrical outlets, put dangerous objects out of reach, remove toxic chemicals from under the kitchen and bathroom sink, and do whatever else I can to ensure the safety of my dear ones. Please don’t tell me that you think child-proofing is some kind of conspiracy to destroy our children!

4. I’m not an outright opponent of all corporal punishment, but neither do I take pride in it. Quite frankly, I once spanked one of my daughters and left a couple of bruises on her hind-side. I never laid a hand on any of my children after that. I realized that anger was in control and that brute force does not produce discipline. In today’s world, if a teacher saw bruises like that, the parent would be in real trouble. I also remember the last time I was spanked by my mother. She used a foot-ruler and I laughed. I guess she realized that the time for corporal punishment had passed and she had better depend on the good judgment she had instilled in me rather than the switch. The good judgment hasn’t always won, but I think it has done better than corporal punishment in most respects.

5. I’m not especially impressed by how many channels I have on my television. In fact, if all I had access to today were the three or four major network channels, I would probably be turning the TV off after Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. I probably watch less than 10% of the available channels anyway, and I can only watch one at a time (well, I guess I could use the picture within a picture feature, but I’m not inclined toward that). I do hunger for real news, but the latest Hollywood shenanigans seem to be more newsworthy than the substantive issues of the day. I don’t think that my physical conditioning has deteriorated because I use a remote control and have cable service rather than an adjustable antenna. Then again, I suspect all of us would be better off if we turned the TV off altogether and read the New York Times and the Bible instead.

6. You know, I actually remember when we said the Pledge of Allegiance in school when “under God” wasn’t part of the Pledge. Hey, and I’m not THAT OLD! We tend to fixate on certain symbols and want to make them sacred (like my previous comment about the New York Times and the Bible). As far as I know, schools still use the Pledge of Allegiance; but I honestly can’t see that things have gotten better since we added “under God” to it. In fact, we seem to fight more over which God we are pledging allegiance to and which political party is in control under divine providence. We have lost the sense that we are “one nation” made up of immigrants from many nations who displaced the original native citizenry; so we want to bar the door to the current expression of the former and keep the latter on reservations where they can operate casinos controlled by the mob without government interference. I’ll stop on that one.

7. I think professional sports has done more to destroy a sense of Sabbath than having stores open on Sunday, which isn’t the Sabbath anyway; but by this time, who is still reading and cares what I think.

8. Drinking from the water hose in days of yore probably was safer that drinking from most water sources today. That was back before we polluted our streams, over-fertilized and over-pesticided our farms, dumped toxic chemicals in our land-fills, put everything in plastic containers, used a gazillion gallons of petroleum products to get around, and fracted good old Mother Earth to extract natural gas.

In reality, I’m not sure we are “turning out OK” today; and we probably wouldn’t be in the fix we are in if we had turned out OK in the past. I find it hard not to be an optimist and a pessimist at the same time. We are still in as much need of redemption as we were when Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden, when Noah entered the ark, when children of Israel worshiped the golden calf, and when Jesus died on the cross. Nostalgia doesn’t foster prospects for the future. Predictions and prognostications don’t change the future. Only the present moment counts, and I guess we all had better take this present moment seriously—or else someone in 2061 will be reflecting with nostalgia on the good old days of 2011.


  1. great true...but I think we like to just 'think' about the closeness and the things that were in 'our' reach that we didn't 'need' to rely on other sources or 'other' means. It's not really a 'need' to think of the haves and have nots, necessarily, but of the times 'love' took on various meanings than it 'seems' today. "ditto" on all you said...and I respond with the additional evilness that has entered the world today...with additional opportunities comes additional responsibilities.

  2. well, Mike, you're adding to your comments...around these neck of the woods we didn't have too many places to go, we necessarily have any other place to eat except "home" and ironically my mom didn't like cooking with lard...but she did use Crisco. As far as a bike helmet...we never knew such things existed..I guess because we were never watched bike racing on TV because it wasn't broadcast in our area because of the three limited stations we received. :)(which was fine with me!) The Pledge of Allegiance...I vaguely remembered saying it as part of the morning and said it because it was routine...and honestly don't remember if we said "under God" was in it or not.
    Well, yes, Sabbath...that is theologically correct when you say that it really isn't the sabbath..but because of the resurrection, every Sunday is Easter Sunday and its the time to celebrate!
    As far as drinking for the water hose, I did it one or two times...but thought the taste was terrible!! Also at that time your lawn mower didn't cut off when you let go of the handle or got off the that too is a 'safety' issue.
    Well, I may have not turned out "okay" to certain criteria according to many folks, but I must have done something right/correct because I think to have come this far, it is either through perseverance or by Grace of the Good Lord...either way, I am grateful and extremely thankful, for many times past, I've felt almost absolutely worthless.
    Maybe, through it all, its perspective and a view that one has to comprehend in the light of each individual and each personal 'space' of where they were raised as well as the area they were raised in and by.