The good old days in America

I want to tell you, son, what a great country America used to be.  I’m afraid if I don’t tell you soon, you won’t believe me in a few years, because things are declining so fast I can hardly believe myself how far we’ve “progressed”.   So I want to say, just from my ground-level perspective, what it used to be like to grow up and live in this beautiful nation, and I want to say so right now before the mists of time blur my memory, or possibly before it becomes illegal to publish these increasingly uncomfortable truths.  You can laugh about that possibility-right up until the moment it happens. So here’s what it was like in the USA, way back when:

When I grew up, the USA had everything.  Reminiscing about that time, I said this about our country in an article I wrote in 2011:

We were “…a younger, more innocent America, a country that showed a shattered war-torn world a better way.  It was a nation where even the average Joe could buy a home in the ‘burbs or, with a little guts and ambition, build an empire from scratch.  It could take on the Commies with its left hand while sending a man to the moon with its right and build Mustangs and GTOs just for fun in its spare time.  It constructed a ribbon of superhighways across a continent and led the world in everything from telecommunications to Tupperware and sold those products to every corner of the planet.  It fed the world and led the world in everything…the best, the fastest, the most, the tallest…name a superlative, and you could be sure it was “Made in the USA”.  And the popular attitude born of that magnificent excess was simple.  We were having “Fun, fun, fun” while striding the world like a Colossus, and we made no apology for it.”

And that was a true statement.  We had the tallest buildings, the biggest cars, the newest cities, and the most glamorous stars.  We made everything right here, and it was quality stuff.  We earned our reputation by hard work, honesty, fair play, a little luck, and minding our own business for the most part (we didn’t know about the evils done in our name back then by the CIA, but still, that was nickel and dime stuff compared to today).  We were the undisputed leader of the Free World, and everybody in the world looked up to us because we really were that “shining city on a hill” that Reagan spoke of, protecting weaker nations from the very real evils of encroaching Communism.  We were dynamic, optimistic, and best known for our “American ingenuity”.  When’s the last time you heard that term, son?  Ever?

We had a real sense that being an American meant something special, and we all held in common core values that bound us together.  This was taught in our schools and reinforced at home, by the government, and in the media: our national heroes and mythology, our European heritage, our music, our language, our Christianity…all of these cultural underpinnings (we were told), were what unquestionably made the USA such a great and special place.  It was who we were.

We looked to the future back then, and we embraced it.  We were optimistic that, come what may, we’d do the right thing, and in every field of endeavor there’d be progress toward a goal that everyone in the country could embrace, whether it was excellence in education, developing innovative technology, or improving the health of our citizens.

At the same time, there was no sense that anyone owed me anything.  On the contrary, I felt lucky to be born in the greatest country on earth.  When John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”, I not only took it to heart; it sent chills down my spine.  I wanted to help America, the land that I loved.

I grew up in a medium-sized city in Arizona that was unremarkable in many ways.  Outwardly, it wasn’t much different than what you see today, except that the homes were smaller.  But socially, those old neighborhoods were miles apart from modern suburbia.  On the street in my first home, there was a doctor, a professor, a Coca Cola executive, a plumber, a football coach, a factory worker, a retail store owner, and an engineer. The only gated home I ever saw was when Dad accidentally drove up Camelback Mountain to within eyesight of Barry Goldwater’s house-and he was running for President.  My friends and I would play baseball in the vacant lot across the street, and it was a rare day that I didn’t play outside until dinner time, during which the entire family sat down to eat at the table, and after which we all watched the same TV show, which contained no nudity or strong language, on our black-and-white television.  We rode our bikes to school…I don’t remember how far it was exactly, but it took about 15 minutes, and nobody ever thought about needing a bus for that trip.  We learned by rote memory in our classes, all of our work centered on reading, writing, and arithmetic, and I still remember most of what I learned to this day.  The other kids all looked like me, for the most part-white, thin, and (sometimes) awkward and bespectacled, and we didn’t dare break the rules, or else the Vice Principal, who was really nothing more than a disciplinarian, would paddle us with a board so hard that it would make us fart.  Nobody ever thought to sue the school over it because they knew it would get thrown out of court.  The biggest fear I had was that Mom and Dad would be mad at me for getting in trouble, so for the most part I didn’t.  Mom stayed at home and cooked almost all our meals fresh and made sure that we did our homework, and Dad worked a regular 9-5 job that earned him enough to raise a family of five.  We had exactly one single Mom on the whole street.  It was a nice middle class neighborhood, and you won’t find anything like it anywhere in the USA anymore. 

People of all ages were mostly thin and fairly healthy.  I can’t recall any handicapped parking, though there probably was a spot or two at the new mall.  If somebody couldn’t walk, they probably didn’t have any legs.  We didn’t eat what you’d call healthy food, but it didn’t matter, because when you play outside for 3 hours each day in the broiling desert sun, you don’t get fat.    Hospitals were for real emergencies.  When I gouged a big hole in my leg in a freakish accident, Mom took me to the family doctor, who rode me on the back of his motorcycle to the hospital, where he stitched me up personally-that was a thrill that I can relive like it happened yesterday.

Now, you may think that I’m just making all that up, or just remembering it more fondly than the reality.  You may think it sounds horrible because we didn’t have computers, flat screens, or electronic games.  You may even believe those in the media that claim that I grew up in an era of severe repression and that we should never want to go back to those horrible old days.  Well, I’m here to tell you that’s bunk.  True, it wasn’t perfect.  Women and minorities weren’t treated fairly.  We didn’t have enough respect for our environment.  We still  fought stupid wars for no good reason.  But I will say this: it was paradise compared to what I see now, because for the average guy and gal on the street, the lifestyle I just described is like an impossible dream. 

Now, it takes both Mom and Dad working just to barely get by, and most people in this country are falling further and further behind financially.  On a typical street, almost half of the kids will be victims of divorce. I don’t see anybody playing outside anymore without adult supervision.  All of the doctors and lawyers live in the same part of town, which might as well be a solar system away from the (few remaining) factory workers and plumbers, and they’re are all specialists who don’t have any idea what your name is, let alone have time to treat you for a minor emergency.   The TV shows are full of filth, the movies are worse, and the Internet is a pornographic freak show.  You won’t get paddled in school, but you might get shot, even as you are forced to get up as early as 6:30AM to catch a bus to the other side of town so that you can go to school with the “right” racial mix of kids.  While you’re there, you will be taught that the Founding Fathers were all racist pigs and how to don a condom, but I am willing to bet that most students today can’t do long division without a calculator, let alone write an essay or quote Shakespeare.

But the experience in schools pales in comparison to adult life.  I remember when we picked up Dad at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix back in the 60’s.  It was a big deal, because flying back then was expensive.  People dressed up.  Dad wore a suit and a pencil-thin tie, and the women wore conservative dresses.  I don’t remember seeing any police there at all (though I suppose they might have been), but of course there were no lines where people had to strip off some of their clothes and all of their dignity just to prove they weren’t terrorists.  I will tell you the truth, I really believe that if a cop had asked a man to do that back then he’d have been punched in the mouth, and I doubt that a court would convict him of a crime if he had.  In my mind, flying had a glamorous image filled with exotic, far off places.  Think Katherine Hepburn stepping out of a Pan Am Clipper in Singapore after sleeping her way across the moonlit Pacific.  No, that wasn’t a realistic portrayal, but compare and contrast with a very real story about superstar Naomi Campbell, who was dragged, kicking and screaming obscenities, from a British Airways flight in 2008 after hitting and spitting on an officer.  And never mind the veritable freak show of circus rejects that you see at the typical airport these days while you’re waiting on a flight that has been cancelled or overbooked.  If you want to know more, I wrote about the horrors of modern air travel here.

The average person I met when I grew up was civil. When they cursed, it was shocking, because you so rarely heard it.  Today, I know a well-educated woman who uses the “F bomb” so much that it’s simultaneously her favorite verb, adverb, adjective, article, and noun.  I think you know who I’m talking about. She can construct a full sentence with just that one word, depending on the inflection and tonality.

People used to have jobs for life.  It wasn’t uncommon for a man (it was almost always a man) to retire from a factory or office after working there for 30 plus years.  He’d get some kind of small reward for his service, maybe a little party, and a decent pension that would carry him through his golden years.  I may have been among the last of that breed myself.  Today, people have no loyalty to the company because the companies (not to mention the country) haven’t been loyal to them.  The average Joe has seen his job shipped first to Japan, then to Mexico, then to China, and each time he was “downsized” he was supposed to retrain himself into something new…which he dutifully did, over and over, but typically never reclaiming the wages he once earned back in “the good old days”.  Meanwhile, the bankers and the lawyers saw their wages rise stratospherically, and government workers also started making the big bucks, but almost nobody in the good ol’ USA actually seems to make anything anymore with their hands, and the average blue-collar stiff has seen his wages stagnate for 40 years now.  I can’t really see how things can go on like that forever.

I think one of the biggest differences back then was in the way the media reported events too.  Walter Cronkite was on the news every night reporting about the Vietnam war, the space program, and all of the major political and social events of the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s.  And even though he was privately a liberal, most people trusted him because he didn’t usually allow his personal agenda to influence his reportage in an obvious way, in marked contrast to today’s activist newscasters who see it as their duty to change the world by directing the narrative.  No wonder no one trusts them

Nobody I knew of got an abortion back then because it wasn’t legal.  It’s true, they did happen, but they were rare, and not just because they were hard to get.  No, it was because the girls were harder to get, at least for me, and I wasn’t alone.  Sure, we had “loose” girls (yes we were prudish enough to call them that), but they were few and far between, and none of them were in a hurry to do anything other than find a man and get married; they just didn’t know how to play the game properly like the good girls did.  I can promise you none of them I knew of made a game out of losing their virginity.

I grew up during the Vietnam War, and you know our family had an uncle who was badly wounded during that conflict.  The government lied to get us into that war just like they lied about Iraq.  But the difference is people got drafted to fight that war, and it was very unpopular, so those back home protested against it.  And you know what?  It worked.  Yes, it took a long time, but finally the protests had some effect, and the war ended.  Today, nobody is drafted, but it’s mostly the same poor kids who are doing the fighting and dying.  Only now, nobody protests, because they have no skin in the game.  So we have a war that’s dragged on for 16 solid years, and one of our most senile senators says he doesn’t care if we have to stay there 100 years!  Now, that’s a kind of special stupid you just can’t fix, but this man will likely die in that office, which he’s occupied far longer than you’ve been alive.  If that doesn’t show you the game is rigged, I don’t know what will.

Son, what I want to convey is that, while America once was a great place to live for the average person, it just isn’t anymore.  That’s right.  We aren’t number one.  Not even close.   Look at just about any data point you like, and we’re probably well out of the top ten and dropping fast, unless you’re measuring incarceration rates, total debt, or how much we spend on “security”, and yet still you’ll hear some moron say we’re “the land of the free” with a straight face even as he works as a tax slave for a third of the year so the government can pay a bureaucrat to tell him who he can hire and fire, and why, and if he steps out of line, there are dozens of US government apparatchiks busily screening his every Facebook post for any sign that he needs to have a jack boot rammed up his rectum as a reminder of just who, exactly, is in charge of his life.  And by the way, if some faggot wants him to bake a “wedding” cake, he has to do that, too.  “Land of the free?”  Not any more.

The media and our educators have ways of making everything we endure today seem normal…but it isn’t.  It’s all just a preposterous lie, and we’ve heard the lies so long that now they’ve become the truth to us, just as Orwell and Goebbels promised.  Now, you can’t alter any of this by protesting, or contributing, or letter writing, or voting the right way.  I tried all that, and so did generations of other Americans, and all it ever got us was chin music from the amoral pigs we call our elected representatives.  After all, if voting ever really changed anything, they’d never allow it.

No, there’s only two ways to change any of this at this late date.  One of those is likely to lead to ruin.  I speak here of revolution, which hardly ever works out the way people think it’s going to.  You have to have perfect timing, the support of a foreign government, great leadership, and a lot of luck to succeed, and even then, when the smoke clears, the new boss usually looks exactly like the old boss.  Besides, I’m too old for it and killing is a sin (something else the USA has forgotten).  So, what’s the second way?  Are you ready for this?  Good.

We need to turn back to God.  That’s right.  As a nation, we lost our way when we quit worshiping the God of our fathers.  We used to be a Christian, God-fearing country, and now that very term is a source of derision.  When we stopped going to church and promoting our own values, we opened the door for the Judeo-secular society that you see today.  Sadly, I wallowed in that zeitgeist myself, and frankly I’m ashamed of it, but none of that matters now.  What’s important is that it’s never too late to turn back to Christ, and if we do, He will hear our cries, and He will help us to heal this nation’s sins. 

Real Christians should abhor what we’ve become.  A Christian nation does not murder its children, promote homosexuality and promiscuity, or enrich a privileged class at the expense of the impoverished masses.  It does not seek to bomb hapless people on the other side of the planet, poison the environment, or lie and spy on its own people.  It doesn’t play one group of approved victims against another, and it doesn’t try to silence those who disagree with it.

Christians should be angry at the sins that have been visited on our country, but we should first understand that we allowed it to happen.  Nobody made us go into debt to buy that big house, forced us to watch HBO, or told us we had to glorify celebrities.  Nobody made us do drugs, have illicit sex, or laugh at our parents when they told us we were wrong.  Nobody force-fed us fast food, made us sleep in on Sundays, or split up our families when the going got tough.  Nobody made us do any of those things, but we did them anyway, and so…well, here we are. 

But the great news is, if we turn back to Christ, it’s never too late, either for a person or a people.  That doesn’t mean we’ll have it easy from now on.  No, we will have to pay for what we did, but we will be a great country again if we learn that what’s important is not the size of our wallet, the strength of our military, how many Facebook friends we have, or who wins a football game, but that Christ walks among us, and if we let Him, He will guide us.  Then we will truly become great again, better even than we were before, because we will reflect the fruits of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness…”, and that will be a glorious awakening for our country indeed.  All we have to do, son, as a nation, is pray for forgiveness, and repent.

Oh, and go and sin no more.

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5 Responses to The good old days in America

  1. Great piece!
    Chock full of details, which makes for great writing. See http://deanslist.info/the-miracle-of-writing-requires-guts-and-hard-work/
    I was fully into it and committed to the long haul before I ever got to the conclusion, which was quite powerful. This could serve as your magnum opus, as evidenced by how many of your articles were embedded.
    Not that I’m lobbying for it, but you could die with this one in the can 😉

    • Jonathan says:

      Thanks Dean! That’s high praise coming from you. Much appreciated.
      FYI, I did read your article and it’s packed with useful tips. I especially need to heed the advice of “putting seat of my pants in the seat of the chair” and not worry about perfection so much as just getting something done with good detail and conflict.

  2. Lawrence Glickman says:

    I grew up in the same time period although from your article I believe I’m a bit older. Yes you are correct on almost all of your points. I would like to remind everyone of the fact that the Jewish people were pioneers in America going back to the Revolutionary War . The patriot Hyman Solomon gave George Washington the cash needed to continue during the dark days of Valley Forge. His statue is in Boston and George Washington wrote a letter to his compatriots that basically told them that Jews were to be welcomed in America. My family was active on the Council of Christians and Jews and my Mother was invited to the White House by two first Ladies for her charitable work. The unbreakable bond of our Judaeo/Christian partnership from history and the Jewish roots of Jesus goes on to the present day. I have returned to faith and will move to Colorado which still has the flavor of America and the optimism that I grew up enjoying. I watched as the faithless nightmare and “anything goes” attitude made California my old address an unlivable nightmare, filled with hate against anyone who stands for decency and patriotism. I say lets continue without fear to fight for the renewal of America and its Constitution. I have lost many “friends” due to my own posts on these issues. A small price to pay. Currently our President may not have the personal style that makes people comfortable but he has for the moment at least supported the values that made America great. Let us say a prayer for America and individually do what we can to preserve and improve the greatest country ever created on this Earth,

    • Jonathan says:

      Welcome to the struggle! I’ve lost “friends” as well, and you’re correct to put them in quotes. I’ve found that the left in general is extremely intolerant of opposing opinions, especially when backed up by fact. 🙂

  3. lyrac says:

    Yes, very good–repentance. That is a word that needs to be said– pondered, discussed, wept over, acted upon, defended and honored. For we will never be able to reclaim the sense of ourselves as historical beings, never be able to reclaim our past– and therefore create a viable future. For the present is just a fantasy–an ugly monstrous fantasy. We need to return to reality— and the way is through the door of repentance.

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