Editor’s note: “Look Back” is a series designed to highlight articles from the Good Faith Media archives that remain relevant or historically interesting. If you have an article from our archives that you’d like us to consider including in this series, please email your suggestion to firstname.lastname@example.org. This article first appeared on BaptistsToday.org on July 13, 2013. At the time of publication, Pierce was executive editor of Baptists Today.
Anyone else remember when the ’60s were bad? Well, they are not anymore.
Listen to the naysayers, who tend to speak with a holy tone, and you will hear of a glorious, ideal time to which we should all be seeking to return. According to their fearful narrative, the last half-century has been one big rush toward Hell.
Of course, that is much like what the elders in the 1960s were saying about the evil ways of that time. The only difference is the primary blame now is placed on different political activists, immigrants and so-called secularists rather than primarily the Beatles.
Hearing such calls to return to a yesteryear when life was ideal — and it was pretty darn good for many white males who had educational and vocational advantages — leaves me wondering what these people remember and what they forgot.
Despite great advances in medicine, communications technology, race relations, social services for those fleeing abusive relationships, greater legal protection of equal rights and other strides forward, recent decades still get portrayed as one big downhill slide.
What a clouded vision. Many of these same alarmists of today were alarmists of that era because, like this time in history and all others, things actually change.
What was considered a fearful time of social change in the ’60s, however, has become the ideal to which we should return. How did that happen?
The answer is clear: that time is now familiar rather than fearful. The changing present and unknown future are what always call for alarm.
Well, excuse me from this game. It is not based on reality.
Are there significant challenges in our modern era? Absolutely.
Should we be concerned about violence, abuse, economic issues, ethical challenges tied to new technologies and more? Yes, as in every generation.
Should we be guided by fear of change and a romanticized, idealist view of a time that was once marked by much of the criticism heard today? I find nothing honest or constructive about that approach.
Honest recollections of the late-’60 and ’70s include hearing aging relatives and neighbors wondering and worrying aloud about the awful state of this country — along with all kind of assurances that the Lord Jesus would not put up with such and soon make a big final appearance to put it all to an end.
And now another aging generation is wringing its hand that our only social salvation is to return to the good ol’ days that were then considered so bad.
My preference is to not romanticize the past or present — nor to misrepresent either — but to live into a hopeful future in the midst of new challenges brought on by technology and social patterns that have great advantages as well as risks.
Besides, I don’t want to go back to smoke-filled restaurants, or having to put dimes in a roadside pay phone or getting up to turn the TV dial to one of the three channel choices. And any Christian sensitivity to issues of equality and justice should allow for at least as much confession as warm nostalgia about times gone by.
We are better served and more able to live constructively today with a balance of both good memories of the past and a hopeful future that acknowledges the needed and helpful strides along the way as well as the new challenges to be faced.
Also, it helps to know that, in about 50 years, many who are kids today will bemoan whatever is taking place at that time and yearn for the slow, easy and idealistic days of 2013.
Because yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away.
Executive editor / publisher at Good Faith Media.