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living in the past
by katherine l (aka clevertitania) (@CleverTitania)

Ever since the Tea Party Movement started, we’ve seen another surge in people talking about how much better things were in the past. Once again we see a generation of people yearning for the 50’s, 60’s, or some other era they imagine was so great in comparison to today. These people believe we are on a moral decline that can only be combated by a return to “family values” and a “stricter moral code.”

It got me thinking a lot about history, about the different eras this country (and the world) has seen. At first I started breaking down pieces of it, looking for the segments of our lives that these people truly want to go back to. But then I realized something really significant. Not only are these people blind to the realities of the ages they want to return to, they are just plain wrong.

A couple of months ago I decided to watch a marathon of Soap, the 70’s TV show. As much fun as I have enjoying this classic comedy, it also makes me shudder a little every time a social issue shows up in a story line. For instance, there’s the character of Jodie Dallas (played by the amazing Billy Crystal), a sweet, caring - and incredibly moral - gay man. Over the course of the series a lot of things happen to Jodie; he decides to have a sex change operation, gets a woman pregnant, gets left at the altar by said woman, gets custody of his baby when the mother takes off, gets sued for custody when the mother comes back, and then finds his daughter has been kidnapped by the mother after he wins the custody battle. And during all of this, even his stepfather - who really does care about and respect him - can’t seem to avoid making ‘fruit’ jokes about him. Then there is the custody case where the baby’s grandmother accuses him of having a ‘gang of homosexuals’ threaten her when she tries to pick up the kid. Every bad thing that happens to Jodie is justified by people simply because he’s gay. Jodie always tries to do the right thing, even to the point of trying to marry a woman he loves but isn't sexually attracted to (she manipulates him into the sex that leads to the pregnancy). But it's always his morals that are questioned, because he's gay. And let’s not forget, this is barely 30 years ago.

Then there was his brother, Danny. He had his own ups and downs, but I was particularly rocked by the events that took place after Danny met Polly - a black woman - at his first wife’s grave site (she was visiting her first husband’s grave nearby). First Danny and Polly form a friendship based on their shared loss, but eventually they start dating and move in together. As the relationship grows, even his family panics a little, though they assure him they are not racist just concerned about the bigotry the couple will face. And do they face it. When they move into a nice little suburban neighborhood, they have rocks thrown through their window, crank calls, and part of their house is set on fire. The only bright spot is a couple - stopping by to bring them a ‘welcome’ cake - who assures them the entire neighborhood isn’t so prejudiced.

Once again I point out, this show premiered in 1977, so we are talking about a time barely 30 years before now. In fact, those fighting for a return to a “simpler time” would probably even say we need to go further back than that to repair our moral path. Sure, I vaguely remember things being different back then, but even having grown up in that time I felt stunned and shocked by the bigotry, racism, sexism, and intolerance the series comments on.
This got me really thinking about the biggest difference between then and now. And do you know what I decided is really great about the 21st century? I think this is the first time in our history when we’ve come to understand and accept just how stupid American’s - as a group - can be. In the earlier eras we’ve had a broader arrogance about our knowledge and understanding of the world. But now, more people than ever believe the human race is full of morons and ignorant fools.

And why is that good? Well, because when some twit tells us that two men getting married destroys the sanctity of marriage - not the adulterous, wife-beating, serial wedding straight people that have been tarnishing it for years - now we can understand why the twit thinks the way he does; because he’s a twit. When some idiot professes that a ‘mixing of the races’ is a bad and dangerous degradation of our country’s future we can just call him an idiot and move on. Plus, when we’re calling him an idiot we know that most of the country agrees.
The bulk of the US (and the world) has come to understand that bigotry, racism, sexism, and any form of intolerance is crap and shouldn’t be encouraged or sanctioned. We call it what it is; stupid and ignorant. We’ve also come to a point in our evolution when we understand that morality isn’t a static thing. Morality is subjective - adjusting based on a person’s culture, family and societal influences - and cannot be judged based on our own views of the world. Does that mean immortality doesn’t exist? Hardly. But most people have learned that the only truly immoral behaviors are the ones which harm others and their right to live within their own moral code.

To those who think we are experiencing a moral decline in this country; you need to study your history a little bit better. The moral road has only gone up since the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Casual sex as an acceptable behavior, gay marriage, interracial marriage, the divorce rate, drug use, sexually explicit art/culture/fashion, and a larger scale rejection of puritanical religious expectations; these are not the markers of a society in decline. These are the markers of a society finally acknowledging that stupid people have no place making the rules for the rest of us.
And to the self-proclaimed moral Tea Party specifically I say this; you want your country back, then move somewhere and recreate it. Because it seems the country you want is one where you get to tell people who they can love/marry/sleep with, what they can and can’t do with/to their bodies, and what religious text they have to use to determine the law and standards of decency. And we’ve lived in that place for long enough.

This is our country now. A country where we are trying to change the laws to respect a person’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That may have been the founding principle of our country, but it’s not how our laws have been built to this point. Instead the laws have been built to coddle the ignorant among us, to maintain this illusion that we were a just society. Well I, and many others, are tired of the illusion. It’s time for that to be our reality. And the morons of the world need to just shut up and adapt, because we don’t have any more time for their reminiscing over this countries foolish infancy and adolescence.


When I grow up, I want to be; whoever Joss Whedon wants to be, when he grows up. I am a writer because it's the first thing I want to do when I wake up in the morning; aside from eating and using the lavatory of course. My work includes screenplays, short stories, film/TV/music reviews and socio-political commentary. The last one is a fancy way of saying I like to shoot my mouth off on many topics. I excel at using $1.50 words. They gone up, thanks to inflation. Isn't our economy awesome?

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teymur roshdi
7.18.10 @ 4:28p

Honestly I prefer much more all the 'harsh' realities of our 21st centuries than the 'hypocrisy' of the few past decades.An open 'ugliness' is better than a fake 'beauty' , because the latter is a lie but the previous speaks the truth and the truth is always beautiful.

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