Grandpa, tell me 'bout the good old daysThis time, however, the song just got me thinking about all the misleading assumptions it was making. Don't get me wrong - while I generally think it's a good thing when families stay together and when they practice their faith together, there are still a number of problems with this song:
Sometimes it feels like this worlds gone crazy
Grandpa, take me back to yesterday
When the line between right and wrong
Didn't seem so hazy
Did lovers really fall in love to stay
And stand beside each other, come what may
Was a promise really something people kept
Not just something they would say
Did families really bow their heads to pray
Did daddies really never go away
Woah oh, grandpa, tell me 'bout the good old days
Grandpa, everything is changing fast
We call it progress, but I just don't know
And grandpa, Let's wander back into the past
And paint me the picture of long ago
1) The "good old days" weren't actually that good. The idea that people in the past were less sinful than they are now is simply false, as anyone familiar with history or literature or social science (or Christian doctrine?) can attest. Nonetheless, this remains a common belief, and one that seems to occur in greater frequency the older one gets. This however, I believe, is an illusion created by the fact that, before the era of the 24-news cycle, our sins were more hidden and less public. But they were still there. Families still broke up. Husbands were abusive. Spouses cheated on each other. People were hateful and violent towards each other. There were murderers and rapists and pedophiles and drug abusers and all of that back in the "good old days" too, you just didn't hear about them everyday, all day on the news like we do now.
2) Even the things that actually were "better" back in the "good old days" often had a dark side to them. For instance, maybe there was less divorce, but that also meant that there were a lot more people (especially women) stuck in abusive relationships. And back in the "good old days" these women typically had no other choice since they were financially dependent on their husbands and literally could not survive on their own.
Likewise, perhaps there was a greater sense of religious unity back in the "good old days" (though in fact the long history of religious tensions in America say otherwise), but this also meant that minority groups (e.g. Jews, atheists, Catholics, Mormons, etc.) often faced serious persecution and discrimination. Those aren't the kind of "good old days" I want to return to.
Not to mention all the other evils of the past that actually have gotten a lot better in recent years. The Judds are skeptical about whether our society is actually progressing, but I wonder if they would really want to go back to the days of Jim Crow laws, of patriarchy and unequal rights for women, or when people were shunned by their communities, churches, and families for getting divorced or having a baby out of wedlock, or when it was a crime to be gay (okay, I guess there are still a lot of Christians would would like to reinstate that last one)? Yes, many things in our society have gotten worse, but a whole lot of things have gotten better too. And some of the improvements probably necessarily come at the expense of other good things - for instance, we can't show more love and grace towards divorcees or unwed mothers without also thereby making it "easier" (i.e. less stigmatizing, less traumatic) for people to get divorced or get pregnant out of wedlock.
At any rate, before we blindly accept the assumptions of a song like this, or the next time we're inclined to rant about the immorality of "kids these days", maybe we should think a little more carefully and ask ourselves whether our assumptions are really accurate. IMHO, the "good old days" weren't necessarily that good, and these days aren't necessarily quite as bad as a lot of people make them out to be either.
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