Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Good New Days

Dear Internet Diary,

Were things really better "back then?" I guess it depends on which "then" one is talking about.

Were 50's families closer, with the eating of the dinners and the polite children and the dressing-up? I'm not sure. It didn't happen in my parents' families. They both raised themselves and their siblings. They didn't have the money that we always hear about . Nobody was coming back from any war. Neither of my grandmothers were stay-at-home moms: one had a diner, the other worked the farm. Both died young from diseases that would have been detected these days.

It has to depend on who you ask. Were the "old days" better for girls? Not likely. What about for people of color? For people with congenital illnesses?

Looking at the numbers, longevity, literacy, infant death, I'm feeling pretty good to be living now. I am at a point where I would be considered an old lady a hundred years ago. If you have a lot of babies and have to worl your tail off, I'm not surprised that women died around my age a hundred years ago. I'm at the point where it's just a pet peeve now, if I hear it on tv commercials, on message boards, in books. What's so good about the good old days? I know people feel a little wistful about farm life, but it's shoveling shit. I remember my grandparents' and great uncles' and aunts' farms. I never had to get up early and bundle hay and milk cows and shovel poop and cook breakfast for my brothers and sisters like my Mom, who lacks a right thumb due to a tractor accident. But a lot of people seem to think we would be better off if our lives were like that.

I love that I can see movies and tv shows from all over the world. I love that I can, in seconds, listen to any kind of music I want. I love that I can eat just about any kind of food that's being cooked in the world, just by going to my neighborhood grocery. I love that I can get a giant tv for a couple days work. I love that when I got sick last year, it took an hour to get my body filled with a friendly Quebecois' blood. I'm glad that I got immunized against a disease that killed my great-uncle when he was 12. I'm relieved that my father had cancer and is just as alive and funny as ever, composing music on his high-tech computer music system. I'm thrilled that someone from Oman listened to my atheist radio station yesterday, and I can talk to him live if I want, to find out how he liked it. I love that, at 38, I feel and look young, and don't have to feel like a failure that I don't have babies, and can walk out of the house alone without a male escort, and go sit in a restaurant and eat Portuguese food.

I like the Good New Days.


Aaron Kinney said...

So true. I remember when we talked about this on a past episode of Hellbound Alleee.

Modernity brings happiness and a quality of life never before seen in this world. When infant mortality is down and life spans are up, things are undoubtedly better. Even 100 years ago there was no penicillin (spelling?) And I once had an appendectomy. If I was born just 100 years earlier (blink of an eye really) I would not have lived past 18.

Just 200 years ago people thought mental illnesses were demon possession (and some still do!) Back then, mentally sick people didnt get the treatment they needed: instead they were virtually tortured with twisted rituals and imprisonment and ignorant demon-exorcising procedures.

People worlwide treat eachother much better today than they ever did in the past. And thats saying alot considering the fact that there is still so much inhumanity in this world. Fortunately, one of the best things about modernity is information access. Nowadays more people than ever are at least aware of injustices and ignorances thanks to the rapid sharing of information possible in the world. We are able to self-analyse and self-correct more than ever before, and thats what this is really all about.

The good new days rock!

Hellbound Alleee said...

We must be wary of politicians, preachers, and policy makers who tell us we should go back to better values. What they are saying is they want to devolve, reverse progress, and, basically, put women and black people back in `their place.`Taking away reproductive choice and medical choice is a sure-fire way to do this, since we know that societies where women are doing the best, the more prosperous that society is. Or one could go further and define it with children.