I remember this lament from when I was young. I heard it from the older people who would complain about the world going to Hell in a hand basket. The world, it seemed, was better in the old days. The days when these older people were young ‘uns themselves.
They were probably repeating what the older generation before them said; that the world was changing, and not for the better. I guess indoor plumbing and sanitary conditions were not desirable. That’s right, even though it’s been around since the ancient Aztec and Roman civilizations, only recently have water and power reached the masses. It’s something that most Boomers and X-ers take for granted. Something that to millennials is a given, kind of like instant worldwide communication.
What is the allure of the old days, though? There are so many technological advancements, especially in the past twenty years, that even those of modest means live a comparative life of luxury. As an example I’m have in my hands a device that holds 256 gigabytes of memory, I will communicate these thoughts instantaneously and it can be seen around the world in real time, a phrase we knew nothing about when I was growing up.
Back then, thinking of a computer conjured images of a vast warehouse with giant machinery stacked to the rafters, and it houses maybe half the capacity of my cell phone. I remember being amazed when the game Asteroids came on the scene. Now it’s a relic of the past.
Enough about all that, though. The question is; what makes the past so much better or desirable? Why do we pine for a “simpler” time? Maybe it’s because we now see the world through a different set of eyes. Maybe now we see that much of what we do and pursue is folly and we want to go back to when we didn’t feel like hamsters on a wheel.
Forty years of grinding 40, 50, 60 hours a week and more has brought little more that a big mortgage and a stack of bills and these young whippersnappers have no idea how hard we’ve worked to attain this level of comfort and, worse, have no inclination to work for any of it.
Lazy, we call them. Entitled, because the parents worked so hard to give them everything they never had and now we think, they don’t want to work for it. Has anyone stopped to think that the new generation doesn’t want what the previous generation wanted? Maybe the new generation has seen through the illusion that has been fed to them and force- fed to the previous generations.
Perhaps the new generation believes that life is about experience and growth? Why be cynical about what the new generation wants? We had our day in the sun. We had our chance to leave the world better than we found it, and in some ways we succeeded, others not so much, but at least we tried.
Anyway, maybe life is more than status and material. Maybe it’s about living in the moment of Now, about sharing. Whether it’s money, shelter, thoughts. Maybe it is about the experiences we share. We seem to have this idea that young people need to listen to their elders, and while that is valuable advice, maybe we can learn something from them.
Maybe it’s time for us to get on board and live in the moment of Now. Perhaps we should let go of past programming that made us driven to succeed. Maybe it’s time, not to go back to a simpler time, but to create a simpler time now.