Welcome to the Past
Certainly, we are living in strange days. People are finding that they are having to adjust just about everything in their lives and it is not comfortable to them at all. Those of us who have lived all of our lives in United States of America are feeling that much of that which is being asked of us is too much. Even though we know that those things being thrust upon us are things that will possibly save our lives, we find within us the urge to cheat a little so that some semblance of normalcy can be experienced.
I have observed that what is actually happening is that we are being thrust into the past and are experiencing life on a simpler level. It may not be our choice to do so but nevertheless, here we are and most people don't know how to act. In days past, families were actually families. Economics was a course to study more than an everyday bother. Time was employed in such a way that something productive actually happened as a result of our efforts. It may have been a small thing in our modern way of thinking but it was something we accomplished. Our possessions were just that, possessions which were more of a necessity for every day life than something we owned simply because we had the money to buy it. People lived their lives in a quest to survive and provide for their families instead of spending time trying to figure out some other entertaining thing with which to occupy themselves.
Back in the not-so-distant past, families were really units that functioned as a whole. Everyone had their place and knew where it was. Fathers were the head of the household. They went to work and earned the money to provide the sustenance for the family. When kids wanted money, they went to their dad and asked if he had enough for them to have some small thing they desired. They knew better than to ask for a lot because there were others in the family which had things they wanted also. And, dad simply wasn't able to answer every request in a positive manner because he didn't earn the kind of money people do today. Instead of thousands being spent on trips to Disney World or some other fantastic venue, families of a different day were glad to spend time together on a picnic or riding bikes together. It was great to have dad play with the kids in the yard, teach them how to make and fly a kite or simply tell them stories about his life. Going to a movie was a special treat that was valued highly. It was something to go to the theater, buy some pop corn and a Coke and watch a decent movie. It was special because we didn't spend every day being entertained and neither did we expect that. Our parents were busy providing for our lives.
There was a day not long ago when families actually ate together and conversed about what happened in their lives that day. "Please pass me the rice." "Get all you want but eat all you get" was a regular statement because it took more work in those days to simply provide the necessary food on the table.
Why do I spend time writing about such things in today's world. It's because today's world has changed and it wasn't by choice. People are being forced into the past. Open travel is being discouraged. Close contact which we have always accepted as normal is being discouraged as well. The family income is being threatened and it is smaller. Saving and being conservative is replacing the economically abusive way we have been living. God is coming back into focus as people find that they are out of control and that life is more tenuous than they thought. For the first time in the lives of many, they wonder what might happen to them and what then? They feel out of control and in America we are not accustomed to such a train of thought. We are getting a taste of what people faced in the Great Depression and during the Second World War and the question arises, will we be able to stand in the shoes of the Greatest Generation when faced with uncertainty as they were?
My wife and I have suddenly found out that people actually live in our subdivision. We have been here and have often wondered where everyone was. One never hears a sound or sees anyone much at all. The reason is because of the way we have been living and allotting our time and resources in this modern day. But, all of a sudden families are being forced into the past by what we are experiencing in the world with this killer virus. They are staying home and actually communicating with each other. Husbands and wives are suddenly finding our that the person they loved and cherished in the dating past is still in there. And, they are finding that they like that person. More time around the table is valuable. Women are cooking again because we can't hop in a car and go eat at some restaurant on a moments notice. Kids are seeing their parents in a light that is good for them. It's great to see families walking in the neighborhood. Riding bikes together. Spending quality time with the kids and giving them some kind of adventure as they do things together. Those kids will never forget the moments that they are now experiencing as we have been thrust into the past somewhat. Whether parents know it or not they are enjoying simply being around you instead of always running somewhere in a whirl.
In case no one has noticed, (being facetious), we are now in a dearth of sports. No Baseball. No Football. No Masters of all things. No golf tournaments. No large crowds which eliminates most sports activities. Most of what people used to love to attend is not allowed during this crisis. So, people are having to find other things to do as they sit at home. Backyard sports with the kids is about it except for a few old football games and golf tournaments being rerun by the networks. The children are finding out that their dad and mom are actually able to play the games they love. Somehow, we are being forced to examine ourselves more and it is going to have a positive effect for the individual and for their family. I think that there is another thing going on. People who rarely attended worship and did not consider it a consistent part of their lives are actually hoping for a chance to go to church again. And, those who were regular worshippers and had probably gotten to the point that they took it for granted are finding out just how valuable it actually is to gather with other friends to spend time focusing on God in worship. Being without a plethora of sports thrusts us back into the fifties and sixties when there was not such a huge selection of things to watch on t.v. This twenty-four hour a day sports is a relatively new thing and most today consider it a necessity. Not being able to attend church is a new thing altogether and now it is valued more. One never knows what they have until they no longer have it.
Families who have been little more that a collection of people living together are finding that they are actually "bonding" in a way they have never experienced before. When things get back to "normal" they will not forget that. They are discovering one another and they won't forget that. There will be a new dynamic among them because of being thrust back to the way it was in the past. So, Welcome to the Past! You might find that you will be better for it and that you have enjoyed life for a change. As I see people in our subdivision who are out and about and doing things they never expected to be doing, I have a strong desire to say to them: "Welcome to the Past."
Note: This commentary was written in the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak which has caused our society to adopt procedures which, to a great extent, have pushed us back into a bygone day. It should be read with that situation in mind.
William F. Harrell