We all exist within paradigms and, as time goes by, paradigms shift. This will not be a nostalgia piece or some yearning for the “good old days” gone by. I merely wish to point out that with each passing year we lose a little bit more of our touch with history.
Not history of the sort writ large across the world stage by epic events but of that personal sort of history, those small events that can only be conveyed from generation to generation by folks who actually lived it. Before your current major paradigm shifts, you might want to heed this advice
During every large cultural change there are people who bridge the old and the new. When the steam engine was introduced there were folks who could tell you from personal experience what it was like when wind and sail were the only way to move goods across the ocean. The same was true when the railroad replaced the stagecoach. In the year 1900 there was a thriving buggy whip industry in America. By 1920 it was pretty much gone. In those early days of automobiling cars came with tool kits, the expectation being that when you experienced a breakdown, you fixed it yourself. Before television and fast foods families gathered in the living room after supper, turned on the radio and entered into the theater of the mind. The voices set the scene, your imagination fleshed out the characters and their stories.
Some of my favorite examples of paradigms that have shifted come under the heading of ethics and morality. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not being prudish. I have nine published books and any of them might have been banned under the old censorship rules. I simply like seeing the expressions of disbelief when I discuss the subject with members of younger generations.
For instance, if you combine the Mann Act (transporting girls or women across state lines for immoral purposes), the laws against unlawful cohabitation, and statutes prohibiting the use of profanity in public and then set the following scene: An unmarried couple from Austin, Texas, flies off to Vegas for the weekend, they share a room and after a particularly disastrous experience at the black jack table they are crossing the crowded lobby with him decrying his bad luck, dropping F-bombs as he goes. A fairly common occurrence in this day and age that could have been prosecuted back then for violating three separate laws, one of which was federal.
I can’t speak for other states but folks are still being prosecuted (rarely, I admit) here in Texas for using profanity in public under the Texas Penal Code, section 42.01, disorderly conduct. I will resist “salting and peppering” this with a lot of other references. They exist on countless sites and are only a mouse click away for anyone interested in pursuing the subject.
My point is that while the major changes of any age are recorded in the history books, those little societal nuances that make us who we are are not considered to be important and are lost.
Some deserve to be lost but none should be forgotten, if only to serve as a warning of what to avoid.
So when that codger or old coot in your life begins to expound on the “goodell days” or nosy Aunt Nellie wants to tell you about how it was to be a girl sixty years ago, you should listen.
A culture is nothing more or less than its shared history. Someday this current paradigm will begin to shift and you will be that bridge of information into the next one.