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Good Old Days and History

By Chuck Clegg - | Apr 14, 2021

Over the last couple of weeks I have written about our past being a part of the passing of time. What we recall as memories, is in the bigger picture the history of our lives and the events that surrounds each of us.

Our lives contains both good memories and those that were not so pleasant. Your personal history in all likelihood has not been written down or recorded for future generations to read. But what if it was contained in a book or recorded in a movie just as it happened in that time period of your life’s history, let’s say, go back fifty years to 1971. Now, imagine fifty years in the future someone reads or views that period of history in your life? What were your thoughts about American society or your beliefs in your daily life? Will they view it with the same understanding of the social world in which you lived? Or will they judge your understandings and beliefs by the social norms of life in the year 2071? I believe our country today has begun going down the road towards erasing events in our history.

We have entered a time when re-writing history has become fashionable. There are those that want to judge events in our past with the social guidelines of today. I would remind those who think this way, of the words of George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Perhaps the same could be said for history that is rewritten for social reasons or political expediency.

Understanding all aspects of our history is important, especially when teaching future generations the knowledge we learned by past experiences. Those events were in all likely hood both good and not so good. This experience is how as a society we improve our beliefs and what is acceptable. Recently, I saw a news report that six books written by Dr. Seuss were no longer going to be published. The books had images and references that in today’s world are considered improper.

At about the same time another report that I read spoke about the movie ‘Gone With the Wind.’ First shown in 1939 the movie won eight Academy Awards that year. For the next three decades it held the distinction of being the number one movie at the box office. Today, the movie is being scrutinized for its depiction of the old south. There are those who call for it to be banned in order to erase the images portrayed in the movie.

Both the books and movie are part of another time in our country’s history and culture. It is important that we have grown and strived to better understand all people’s rights to be treated equally and fairly. But, I don’t believe rewriting history makes the world a better place. In each of our lives we learn from our experiences how to improve our ideals and judgments. We grow as a person each time we learn something new. In the long run we hope to become a better person than we were in the old days of our lives. We can only change how we believe today. We cannot change our past, or societies for political correctness.

Both books and movies would better be served for future generations if an explanation of the times in which they were created were to be included in their presentation. We should strive to make sure those who will inherit this world know the unvarnished truth of our country’s history. How else will they know how far we have come in creating an open society? Political philosopher, Karl Popper defined open society as, “in which individuals are confronted with personal decisions” as opposed to a “magical or tribal or collectivist society.”… Political freedoms and human rights are claimed to be the foundation of an open society.

Our good old days will become our legacy of history after we are gone. And those who follow us may look back and understand, as a country we have not always been perfect, but we have tried to improve ourselves and our social values as we looked Through the Lens.