Opinions need not be feared nor suppressed.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The loss of tradition in America: perception or reality?

I really don’t have time for this today, but since I’ve been challenged, here’s a few morsels coming right off of the top of my pointy little head. Oh, if you're wondering where this is all coming from, read the comments attached to my "Preparation H principle" post.

“…the perception of a loss of tradition vs. its reality?”

Perception? Wrong, dude.

My problem…How do you demonstrate a loss of tradition to someone who's probably never experienced those traditions in the first place?

Where should we start?

First of all, families survived on one income meaning moms could stay home and nurture their children. These days, the kids are stashed in warehouses all day while mom earns enough money to cover the profligate levels of taxation.

Interestingly enough, the best day care providers, the grandparents, are also warehoused in nursing homes, so a huge part of the old ways, the old days, the old country and what have you are lost because the grandparents cannot spin those yarns for the kids.

Speaking of the kids, in my day, the kids were respectful and knew how to keep their yaps shut. And they also understood that cursing was forbidden. And they said silly little nothings such as, “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am.”

Kids back then had school clothes and play clothes. Today, too many of the kids have one set of clothes--the gang banger garb. Prison garb, if you will. They used to bitch at us about tucking our shirts in. Today, you can’t get them to tuck their Fruit of The Looms in.

To settle a disagreement during the Brady Bunch days, you needed only to form a fist. These days, you need to empty a full clip into somebody of a differing perspective, before they empty a clip into you.

Their used to be a social stigma attached to being 19-years-old, single and having 4 kids. These days, that’s increasingly the ‘norm, and welfare has become a way of life for too many. The ultimate safety net became a way of life.

Civility and courtesy are no longer taught to the young, and are no longer expected from the adults.

Young folks are taught to despise the church. While I am not a church-goer (far from it), I can’t help but to wonder what our society would be like if our kids were still having the Ten Commandments drilled into them.

And speaking of Sundays, because of the now repealed Blue Laws, society no longer has that slow, quiet day every week by which to slow down and cool off.

Unions used to protect the blue collar worker. But now, thanks to JFK‘s lack of foresight, all that unions do today is make the cost of governing and educating prohibitively expensive.

Nudity and cursing were not a part of the pop culture. Now, I cannot avoid that sort of unneeded stuff while hanging out with my grandkids. These days, it’s all over the television, in the movies and in our devolved music.

Neighbors not only knew one another, they looked out for each other. These days, they’re too busy making love to their PDA to even notice they just backed over the neighbors dog.

People didn’t trade spouses like kids used to trade baseball cards. Back then, a family consisted of two parents of the opposite sex and their children. These days, all bets are off.

Strangers were kinder to each other. Today, it openly pains people to even acknowledge the people they pass on a sidewalk.

Unborn children weren’t destroyed on a whim.

A gentlemen would relinquish his seat for a woman. Gentlemen would open a door for a woman. When did you last hear that word “gentlemen” uttered? It’s a lost art, being a gentlemen.

The last time I opened and held a door for a woman, the tattooed, pierced circus side show act bit my head off by yelling, “I’m not a f**king cripple.” Maybe not, but she looked like a mental cripple.

Self esteem was not awarded to children, it was earned by children.

Young men proved their manhood by way of pumping iron, joining the Marines and that sort of thing, not piercing their ears, dying their hair purple, jelling their hair and tattooing razor wire on their arms.

Older men proved their manhood by earning a living, keeping their noses clean and staying with the same woman for decades, warts and all.

When the “old man” raised his voice, his kids stopped dead in their tracks and took notice. These days, that same raised voice could get Children & Youth knocking on your door. For that matter, half of America’s children have never met their fathers.

Kids did chores. Then and only then did those kids earn their allowance.

Kids were taught to respect the police, not the other way around as it is now.

And in my day, if a cop delivered some kid to his parents, you knew after the cop left the strap was coming out. These days, the parents will defend the actions of their perfect little angels.

Once upon a time, people did not arrive at job interviews looking like refugees from a war zone.

You ate the freshly cooked food that grandma put on the table. There was no debate. There was no democracy available to children. Today, they eat prefabricated, microwaveable garbage.

Television networks did not openly suggest to impressionable children that being heterosexual is an old-fashioned concept.

Everyone ate meat, potatoes, a vegetable and bread. And we were all skinny! Well, except for that fat kid in gym class. Today, everyone is all obsessed with their caloric counts, their good cholesterol counts...and everyone is borderline obese! Figure that out.


Dude, please do not force me to post a Part II. Just listen to someone who was where you were not, growing up in America 45 years ago or so. There is no perception going on here, there is a clear loss of tradition in this country.

Whether you want to admit it or not, and whether you can believe it or not, America used to be a kinder, gentler, safer, slower, more respectful place.

If we’ve progressed at all as a society, I fail to see it.

Anyway, thanks for getting the blood pumping again.



D.B. Echo said...

Ah, but sometimes those good old days of traditional values weren't so good.

My grandmother always used to say, "In my day there was no such thing as divorce. Wives would just poison their husbands." My mom later explained to me that this was no joke...in the good old days, husbands abusing the crap out of their wives was the norm. Some women would just take it. And some whould treat their husbands to some rat poison in their dinner. Women outlived men, no questions asked.

And people were assholes back then, too. Before indoor plumbing was the norm, public outhouses could be found throughout town. A favorite practice was to take a board and smakck the side of the outhouse while people were in it, literally scaring the crap out of them. Or simply tipping over the structure while it was occupied.

(Listen to the end of Orson Welles'1938 broadcast of "The War of the Worlds" for his apologetic explanation of the show as a Halloween prank - "We couldn't soap up all your windows, or steal all your garden gates..." Kids weren't angels, even 72 years ago.

I hold the door open for everybody, men and women alike, on the grounds that they are all smaller and weaker than I am.

zorcong said...

Dude, my parents divorced when I was 3-years-old (1962). I still have no idea why, but I'm always searching for the answers to that ages-old question.

And then she remarried and both she and I got the tar beat out of us for damn near a decade. Guess what? She finally wised up and divorced the ultra abusive step-dad (1971).

And then she married a third time.

Having grown beyond her control, I warned that freaking guy and I warned him until he finally went off and repeatedly hit my little (step) brother, which instantly delivered to him a severe beating (aggravated assault)the likes of which he could have probably never imagined.

Guess what, dude? She divorced him, too (1980).

It sounds to me as if those quiet Nanticoke girls had some murderous ways about them. Seriously? Rat poison?

In those days, sad to say, women were the property of their men. Still, my mom chose divorce over poisonings.

I did not dare to suggest to anyone that things were perfect in those slower, black-n-white days. I never slept-over with Donna Reed's boys.

But I do remember the outhouses, the well pumps in the kitchen sinks, people raising pigs and chickens out back, and despite the urban legend, I never did go out on a date with Laurie Partridge.

Never did I suggest that things were picture perfect before the advent of a quickening societal decay. Rather, what I was alluding to was the fact, the fact, that things are much more worse off today.

And in my mind, to deny as much is either proof of an ideological defensiveness, a percived vulnerability, or proof that you know not of what I speak because you were not there to experience any of it.

Kids weren't angels? Yeah, I know that. I was one of those devilish kids living in a now bygone era.

Know what, though? Back then we had boundaries. Kids had clearly drawn lines they knew not to cross.

And these days?

Anonymous said...

"If we’ve progressed at all as a society, I fail to see it."

I have been pondering this and some things come to mind (although precious few): blogosphere,
Kiva, MADD, email, Smile Train, rails to trails, ... since I was born: civil rights, disability rights, ... but I did think we would be a lot further along in 2010 than we actually are. On the other hand, many thought we wouldn't make it this far.

And while I am at it, let me give a tip of the hat to resurgences - most notably, micro breweries.

Regarding the boundary issues, it took a community. Now we ship them off.


Tom Borthwick said...

Fail to see progress? When you were a kid, black people and white people couldn't drink out of the same fountains.

A lot of all that fun tradition stuff you claim I couldn't possibly experience because of my age, well, guess what, sounds a lot like my upbringing.

That about sums it up.

Anonymous said...

Utopiic old days only exists as a fantasy.
The old days had the depression.
In the old days, a cut could be fatal.
In the old day an infection was a death sentence.
The old days children were sexually abused, but no one talked about it.
The old days rape was often viewed as the women's fault.
the old days kids thought they could get pregnant swimming in a pool with a boy.
The old days beating a child for chewing gum was acceptable punishment.

The old days, beating one's wife was acceptable because she was property.
The old days talking to someone of another race was reason to be beaten or lynched.
The old days dating someone of another faith was reason to be ostracized.
How good life is, is up to the individual not some stupid ass societal norms.
Live and let live. As long as someone's behavior does not infringe on another's life and hurt others, I am good with it. When crimes occur, when others are harmed punishment must be the response. If someone is going about their business what the fuck do I care how they dress, how the adorn their body or how they talk?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous - well said!

zorcong said...

That's all well and good, as we're all still entitled to our opinions.

But I'll share something with you that I learned early on during the management days...

Lowering standards begets lower and then lower standards.