Things I Miss About America

"We never had it so good!" Really?

America's 20th Century versus 21st Century America.
America's 20th Century versus 21st Century America. | Source

I suppose that today’s American politicians are no better and no worse than politicians of old, but (unless our educational system has declined…and some say it definitely has) they should be smarter (and more clever?) than before.

In addition, the level of political compromise seems to have slipped. Promises of “bipartisanship” where the national interest is concerned, (look it up in a dictionary, if like our leaders you have forgotten what "bipartisanship" is supposed to mean) have been all but abandoned.

When I was growing up 60 years ago, the theme of the Dumas’ three musketeers was still alive and well: “One for all, and all for one.” We were Americans, and that meant we knew how to sacrifice for our fellow Americans, and they knew how to sacrifice for us. Fortunately that spirit of noble sacrifice saw us through World War II and earned us the title of “The Greatest Generation.”

Nowadays it seems that shared sacrifice is a thing of the past, while greed and selfishness are in the ascendancy. “Yes, but what’s in it for me?” seems to be the modern battle cry, whereby we fight with each other over any remaining spoils of today’s economic and social systems gone haywire.

Admittedly life was simpler then. America still had a lot of family farms and cities were safer, even desirable places to find good jobs, culture, and entertainment, better schools, and the ideal of “modern living.” In addition, if times got tough many Americans could still go back to the countryside and provide for themselves. Not simply move to the city and expect an impoverished government to do everything for them.

Today’s cities seem to have failing schools, declining opportunities for work, a culture of what can least critically be called “sensationalism” while the infrastructure and public debt of most major cities is in disarray and getting worse.

Some would say that today’s military is stronger and better for having become an “all volunteer force.” But it is strained from overuse, the failure to even qualify of many who would volunteer, and a growing technical gap where the educations needed to cope with cyber, biological, and technical threats to America’s security now threaten us all like never before.

It used to be that two wide oceans, a two fleets Navy, and the Monroe Doctrine, gave us a calm assurance that we could be insulated from the criminals and despots from other failed societies. Now we know that indeed “the world has become smaller” and we are not only a part of a poorly understood “global economy” but that terrorism is an every day threat to our way of life, causing us to spend billions and billions from an already depleted treasury just to try to defend what was once thought of as “Fortress America.”

Lest we think “it is all bad!” we do have what is called “entertainment” that our ancestors never dreamed of (and would in many respects be ashamed of.) Our entertainers are among our richest citizens, while our educators remain among the lowest paid per hour devoted to their job of preparing our youth for today’s international competition,. Our professional sports stars can afford to be “on strike” for more and more, and the old dynamo of American industrial strength has seen the disappearance of core industries that allowed for our independence, self-providence, and national security.

The oil supply our nation once took for granted, along with our abundant supply of coal, gave us all the cheap energy to light our homes, fuel our cars, and drive our economy to surpass all other nations. Now our dependence on foreign oil drives us into overseas alliances and adventures that are at war with the principles which made America so special and a beacon to the world.

It’s enough to make us older Americans wistful for what we call “the good old days.” And, sad that our children and grandchildren may not even know what we think they are missing.

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© 2012 Demas W. Jasper All rights reserved.



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Comments 26 comments

handymanbill profile image

handymanbill 4 years ago from western pennsylvania

Just about said it all. Great hub.


Kenny Bounthot 4 years ago

I love this blog. And YES I do miss the good old days. Though some of the technologies of today are great but with that there are no human with great hardships anymore. Either being a politician, entertainer or athlete today there are many resources that can be utilized unlike back then but yet we (America) can't seem get close to tighten things up.


Michele Travis profile image

Michele Travis 4 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

I also miss the good old days. When we grew up without a computer. Without fear of privacy being taken from us. Black and white tv. I miss a lot of things, I just do.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

handymanbill: Thanks for seconding the motion. Michele Travis gives it a third concurring opinion, while Kenny Bounthot points out that today has some advantages (not counting among them identity theft and cyber-robberies), and maxoxam41 points out the darkening days toward the end of the 20th Century. Today's problems are much to do with the sense of being adrift and floundering.


MYWIKISTEP 4 years ago

It is said that computers help you spend more time with people. How we really take "advantage" of them is another thing.


picklesandrufus profile image

picklesandrufus 4 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

I guess there have always been problems in our country, but I have never felt such a divide as where we are now. Now it seems everyone is screaming about what is wrong, but no one can hear above their own screams. Enjoyed reading your hub.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

MYWIKISTEP: Computers are great for extending our reach to other people around the world, and yes, it does allow certain "others" to increasingly try to tap our works, our identities, and our assets (big time...seemingly states taking blind eyes to massive thievery.)


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

picklesandruful: Yes, we have always had problems but today we seem to take no delight in working on them together. We can make a difference, only if we are not so indifferent.


TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

TIMETRAVELER2 4 years ago

I wrote a hub awhile back about this same topic, so obviously I know where you are coming from with this one. I, too, miss what once was. I feel bad that our young people today have no clue about how good things were back in the day. I guess I should be happy that I was lucky enough to have lived in those times. Sadly, they are gone, gone, gone.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

TIMETRAVELER2: The really sad part? A great many young people think everything is fine, the new "normal" and that makes it more unlikely that "austerity" or "sacrifice for the common good" will carry much weight with them. That's the gone, gone, gone part you are also aware of.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

Prolific writing here. Yes, where has it all gone. We have all fallen asleep. A great reawakening is needed by the Spirit. I remember when America built great things, and did not have other countries to built it for us. All is not lost, as God is still in control. We need to be on our knees before the Lord. Thank you for writing this great piece. In His Love, Faith Reaper


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

Faith Reaper: "He maketh the rain to fall on the just and the unjust." Yet some of us believe in doing a rain dance, or praying for rain during any drought. I suspect that, if those who really care about this country were to pray for what we lack, just like the rain storm, we might see some changes.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

Amen to that, Perspycacious! Agape love to you always, Faith Reaper


cherylone profile image

cherylone 4 years ago from Connecticut

The good old days--they seem so very far away and yet they aren't all that 'old'. I miss the security the most. I hope our youth will finally see the light, but I fear I hope in vain. Great Hub.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

cherylone: Thanks for stopping by and for your comment. We better pray for them, for if there is hope for the future we will find it in them.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

Well, P ... like here in the UK, there are many more of us now than when we were kids ... and we have all taken our share of finite, precious resources, I'm afraid. You could say we may even have been profligate with them.

Sadly, we cannot go back ... we can only go on resolutely and try to sort out the problems one at a time.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

Angie Jardine: Well said, but I caution that, if we "sort out our problems one at a time", we will never catch up, for they seem to come in multiples!


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

Michele Travis: We can miss what we don't have. Be thankful for what we do have. But, remember to Use Things and Love People, not Love Things and Use People.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Very well=written, beautifully expressed. And I think you are right, except perhaps in the military or the fire or police departments, there does not seem to be any commitment to "shared sacrifice." And because that is in large part missing, we as individuals are all the less for it and our nation is diminished and weakened. A superb essay with an important message. Sharing. Theresa


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

This is poignant and wistful and so thought provoking. Great job, I enjoyed the read.Voted up and awesome!


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

phdast7: How nice that you latched onto this one today! We best honor each other and our fallen by keeping alive the sense of shared sacrifice that they and our veterrans embody. They may have signed up or been drafted to serve their country, but ultimately ended up sacrificing for each other. We can and should do the same for the comparatively minor hurts that may call for. Catch my latest on a related subject about complaining.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

rebeccamealey: If we don't yearn and work for something better, we settle for something less.


Rock_nj profile image

Rock_nj 4 years ago from New Jersey

The lack of bipartisanship in Washington, DC in recent decades has been documented in studies. It is a fact, not just a perception. 60 years ago (and before) until about 20 years ago, it was common for people in the U.S. Congress to cross party lines and vote independently to pass bills that helped advance American society. Where would the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System Act go in today's world of no-compromise partisan politics?

The one thing I would have to disagree with you about is the state of American cities. Perhaps they aren't as safe as they were 60 years ago, but a lot of American cities have made tremendous comebacks from the depths that they sunk to in the 1970s and 1980s. Many central cities in the U.S. have been revitalized and have vibrant cultures. Just look at Times Square in NYC for example. It was downright scary in the 1970s and 1980s; a place to avoid, butd now it is a family entertainment zone.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

Rock_nj: We have to be careful that exceptins not make the rule. Yes, let's revitalize them and make them secure places to live, work, and recreate. For those cities which have done so, three cheers. For the others still struggling, God Speed. For schools still failing, wise up, and for Congressmen who put party above their country, go home and stay for awhile long enough to see and experience what your intransigence has done to your state and your fellow Americans.


Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

Pavlo Badovskyy 4 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

Great article with deep thoughts. At the same time one day the young generation becomes older and somewhere in 2050 they will probably miss these old good days, so this is just a question of time. Would you agree?


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

There are good aspects of every epoch. We wouldn't have it any other way. There will be things to look back on and perhaps miss from this day and age. There is never any question that "things" could be incredibly worse. This Hub speaks of what I see as missing and miss from several generations ago. Like a rocket compared to a bicycle, the more complicated we make life, the more things there are which can go wrong. We look at history and try to avoid making the same mistakes. But, we can also look at history and try to duplicate the same successes.

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