Why Do We Go Out of Our Way to Romanticize The Past?

How many times have you heard someone say, “This sure are getting worse in this world”, or “Things used to be so much better back in my day.”

I can’t even front I have said some of the same things myself but I have always thought about is the past really that good or do we only remember the good things about the past and neglect to be happy for the present we are living in now. Is the past really better than the present or the future?  I guess it is really one of those deeper philosophical questions we can never answer. However, I know one thing for sure we romanticize the past maybe much more than we should.

romanticizing-the-pastThere was an article written called “Why are Generation Y Yuppies Unhappy?”and the article basically stated how many people between the ages of 34-21 felt entitled because of what their parents accomplished and gave them. The article goes into a story about how a mythical character Lucy doesn’t understand the idea of hustle, drive, and is caught up in their personal esoteric beliefs and goals. Lucy basically believes that her dreams should just come through because she believes and is special. There were many points that were valid in the piece but let’s not romanticize the past like those people of the past were so much better people.

I began to start thinking about this concept right after Barack Obama was elected President and many conservatives were saying that they want the “Old America back”.  This always puzzled me because the concept of the “Old America” would mean you would want things to go back to a time where many people did not have as equal of an opportunity to the American Dream( many people still do not have access to this but that is another topic). What started to trigger in my head is how many times we selectively believe that the past is historical sometimes better. Every generation has had their own trials, tribulations, and shortcomings that they strive to overcome. But, many times people look at the past like they really had all the world’s problems solved.

For instance, in the Civil Rights movement you will have people comment on how great those times were and how so much more there was black unity but no one talks about how only a small portion of the population was really on the front lines and really fighting for change in America. If everyone was so much about change why was their only a few hundred thousand people at the March on Washington, or millions of more people protesting the Vietnam War? Things weren’t super great in the past by any form or stretch that people attempt to make it seem. People make it seem like everyone was holding hands and singing Kumbaya all over America. Many of the same problems we had back then are the same problems we have today.

People discuss the people and things of the past like they were this vainglorious period neglecting to look at the downfalls of the people of the past. We big up Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and the founding fathers but we don’t talk want to take into account that many of them owned slaves, had various children out-of-wedlock, and were even hooked on cocaine(What do you think was in them handkerchiefs?.) We speak so highly of many historical figures in African-American history as if they were above the general ideal of being human. It’s if we can’t let a man/woman be great without having any shortcomings.

Many times when we see influential people’s biopics (in book or film) released family and supporters of the people will come out and be upset about the story being told about the person. While there is a very real concern about how the past is represented.  People believe that the romanticizing of the person will be the better story when in actuality nothing is learned about the past or the person’s life. The key point we miss about the past is showing the full story of the times to display the scope of the people and the time. Wouldn’t people be able to relate to the past more if we understood how the good and bad were able to shape society for today? Don’t we need to learn the truth about the past so we won’t repeat it? Then why do we continually overly romanticize it?

coca cola black family ad 1950sWhat about all the great people and things happening today. What about the people who are making that are striving to make this current world a better place TODAY?  Look around and think about the greatness around you now before you look in the past to experience it.

Have things changed for the worst in society? In many ways they definitely have but the question begs to be asked: Does things in life really change or does the game of life just rearrange into the same kind of game but with a different title? Do we believe that things are worse because we are more aware of things happening in our society? I know one thing for sure is that many of get so caught up in looking in the rearview mirror that we never take the opportunity to see all the great things going on today. Next, time you want to continually slam the problems with today’s society think about the dope things circling life now. Then ask yourself how much are you contributing to the present instead of worrying about the past?

Make sure you check out this week’s episode of the “Straight Outta Lo Cash” Radio Show. This week’s show “Lebron James’ Mom Is Just Apart of The Game”featuring the Social Heathens. You can also subscribe to the show on I-Tunes or listen on your Android, I-Phone, or I-Pad with Stitcher Radio.

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3 responses to “Why Do We Go Out of Our Way to Romanticize The Past?

  1. I keep telling people: there was no “good ole days”. I have a book that explains why there was no “good ole days”. Some things were better. Other things were far worse.

  2. While there’s nothing wrong with valuing and respecting history, people who are truly committed to romanticizing the past are not focused enough on progress in the present. When our local, state, and national leaders are guilty of devoting too much time to romanticizing bygone days, they hinder the change we need to see happen in our present and future.

  3. I disagree these younger people are crazy as hell doing all kinds of things against God and their fellow man. Life is more than partying and doing molly and that’s what people believe and live their lives doing

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