The values and mores of our grandparents don’t work today

Work In Progress / 31 August 2020

There’s no shortage of people out there that will tell you that things should go back to the way they were in the good old days. To take a different approach, I’d like to make a situational example.

Let’s take a traditional heterosexual relationship. A man, a woman, they have 8 kids and 2 dogs. We drop them into 1950, give the husband a reliable middle class job and a small family farm that produces at least 50% of the food that they eat. What do you get? A happy family that lives comfortably. (This example removes all other external and social variables, for you sticklers of nuance.) 

Now take the same family, drop them into today’s world with the same job and farm, what do you have. A poor family struggling below the poverty level, relying on whatever they can grow just to survive, and still likely loosing a couple of kids and a dog to starvation, and a couple more kids will be lost to children’s aid due to unacceptable living conditions.

Now let’s factor in those pesky variables, like emotional trauma, substance abuse, living expenses, etc. Etc.

Clearly, the world we live in today is different than the world of our grandparents. If you look at things with objective realism, our society is not even remotely set up for a large, single income family to thrive unless the couple are willing to take on some extreme measures that are outside the norm lifestyle for the average person (extreme couponing, extreme recycling, collecting and reusing water, etc.), or unless the family is extremely wealthy. Clearly, by the very nature of these examples, they are extremes and the majority of families simply aren’t going to fit into those extreme circumstances that would allow them to thrive, usually due to barriers such as finance, geography or health.

Though this seems like a reasonable supposition in itself, it will only take seconds on any social media network to find someone touting that the world is going to the dogs and we need to go back to doing things the way we did in the old days.

I’m here to tell you, you can go and do things the way they did in the old days, but it’s still not going to make your life any better. The world is not set up to work the old way. Society changed. You can do things the old way until you are blue in the face, but at the end of the day, you’ll just be broke and hungry.

Large families, single-incomes, fair wages and affordable schooling are things that we waved goodbye to a long time ago. We didn’t hate those things, but we had to give them up in order to survive.

While you are bemoaning the world’s state and shouting that the old ways are the answer, younger generations are adapting and learning how to survive and thrive under some of the most psychologically trying times in recent history. We’re learning how to cope with reality and figure out how to survive in a new reality that you’ve personally rejected while you fight for a world and way of life that doesn’t exist any more and cannot be recreated or reached from where we are at now.

You’re being left behind and we’d really love to bring you along with us into the future, but there are a few things holding you back that you’re going to have to leave behind if you want to survive in today’s world and stick around long enough to see the world of the future.

Those things that you’ll need to leave behind?: Racism, sexism, homophobia.

It’s a short list, and just for the record, I do not condone the fact that these things were acceptable in a society that existed before I was born. The list could easily be three times as long, but you eat an elephant one bite at a time, right?

Maybe you or your family or role model lived in  a world where these things worked, maybe they even thrived because they lived in a world where these things existed. That’s fine, we won’t judge you, it was a different time, but now you need to give that shit up. We’re not going back to the way things were back in the old days. There is no way to get there from here and we wouldn’t go, even if it was. Your long missed past was a dystopia of racial and sexual inequality. Our present is a world where we are all lucky to have food and shelter, regardless of race or gender.

That’s the reality. The only way humanity has a future on this planet is by setting aside petty fears and differences and work together to survive, because those in power are not going to help us.

Stop buying into the “wisdom” that fearing what we don’t know or understand is natural human behaviour. If you want to talk about evolution and survival, those instincts were meant to prevent us from putting our heads into the mouth of a sabre-tooth tiger. A black guy or lesbian are not going to literally rip your head off with their jaws. Stop fearing them, you’re making yourself look stupid.

If you don’t know or understand something; ask questions respectfully, go online and look for forums, go to the library and read a book, get involved with community events and organizations. You’ll learn about different cultures and lifestyles than your own and you’ll meet some great people.

Let’s face it. There are only two reasons that you hate something different than what you know; it’s going to replace you or it knows you better than you know yourself.

In the first case, calm down. No one is looking to replace you and you kids, grandkids etc. are not going to just willingly line-up to let some opressive regime enslave them. Clearly younger generations are willing to fight. All you really need to do is breath and maybe learn to let go and forgive.

The other option, them knowing you better than you know yourself is really about self-hatred. Denial clouds your mind and judgement. When you hate someone for who they are, being gay for example, that person being gay doesn’t turn other people gay. Being gay and in denial makes so epeople hate gay people. It’s happened so often to public figures that it’s a cluche’ now. Someone else’s sexual preference doesn’t change yours, it makes you challenge your own sexual identity. If you are confident in your identity, you don’t feel threatened by the different choices of others. If you aren’t sure or in denial, that’s when people lash out and spew hatred.

You may not be able to go back to the good old days, but you can make the world a better place by accepting those different than yourself.

We know that you grew up in a different world, where these things were acceptable, you or your family may have even benefitted from them, but you are not beyond our ability to forgive you. We want you to be here to see the world that we create when we emerge from this chaos. All you have to do is show changed behaviour and have tolerance for those who have different beliefs, races, genders, lifestyles or abilities.

And when you are ready, if needed, we can even help you learn to forgive yourself.

I also made some art today!

Thanks for reading,