Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oh Those Glorious Days of Yesterday

In my inbox today, I received an email from a fan of my day job (even Z-level celebrities have their followers). In it, he said:

Maybe the American People are no longer worthy of the Liberty which God bestowed upon our Patriot Ancestors over 230 years ago. Given the current popularity of pornography, drug addiction, child abuse, prenatal infanticide ("abortion") sodomy, government corruption and other behaviors which back in our Founder's time were known as "Sin", an excellent case could be made for that theory.

I've been seeing more and more statements like this, and while they're certainly well-intentioned and passionately believed, I'm not sure they reflect any real historical reality.

Pornography is certainly more popular today than ever before, but it's not like it was unknown in the day of our "Patriot Ancestors". Drug addiction? Back in the day of our "Patriot Ancestors", beer was more common (and safer) than water in many cities. Child abuse? Yes, we have child abuse today, but we also have laws against it. Back in the day of our "Patriot Ancestors", children were put to work, accidents were common, and beatings were sanctioned under the law.

More importantly, while there are things that our Founders considered sinful that we now allow as legal, there were also things that our Founders accepted that we would now consider sinful behavior. It's a two way street. Yes, abortion was illegal in the days of our "Patriot Ancestors". Women also couldn't vote or hold public office. Yes, pornography is rampant in our society. In pre-Revolutionary Boston, prostitution was rampant. Government corruption? It's always been with us, because governments are made up of men, and men are imperfect vessels.

There is a lot to admire and a great deal to learn from our ancestors, but that doesn't mean that they lived in a utopian age of patriotic freedom. When we approach the past from that perspective, we miss the lessons we can learn from their reality.

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