During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Donald Trump introduced a slogan that continues to be his trademark well into his presidency, “Make America Great Again.” This slogan indicates that the President is looking back at America’s history, and seeing a time in which America reached its peak, and that he wants to return it to that status. So, on my talk show, I asked my audience, “When was America at its greatest? If you could go back in time and live at any point in America’s history, where would you go?”
What I found was that my audience tended to look back on their adolescent and young adult years as the best years in America’s past. Those who came of age in the 1950s wanted to go back to the 1950s. After all, everything was cheap, good jobs were easy to find, and it was so easy to dance to Buddy Holly and the Crickets. Those who were in their 40s and 50s tended to gravitate toward the 1980s… the years they were in high school or college. Again, good music, good movies, the country was prosperous, and times were simpler. My 30-somethings liked the 90s. Same themes… good music, good movies, prosperous times and a simper life.
Everyone longs for the “good ole days,” but were the “good ole days” really that good?
Sure, the 1950s provide a good postcard for freedom and prosperity in post-war America. Hamburgers, Homes, Cars and Rock and Roll. However, the 1950s were not a good decade for the African-American community, who, having come home after fighting the war, found themselves once again being locked out of the new American prosperity. Hence, Dr. Martin Luther King’s statement that in a sea of prosperity, African-Americans found themselves on an island of poverty.
Furthermore, the 1950s saw an increasing threat from the spread of communism, war on the Korean peninsula, an ever-growing threat of nuclear annihilation, polio, and a political system that was rapidly becoming more volatile. People living in the 1950s lived under the constant threat of instantaneous and unexpected annihilation. Yet, they continued with life, and look back on those days with happy memories.
The 1980s saw American prosperity and good culture as well. Like the 1950s, there was even a Spiritual revival. Yet, the 1980s saw the last great standoff with the Soviet Union, manufacturing being outsourced, costing American jobs, AIDS, crack, homeless veterans, a mental health crisis, the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, inner-city gang violence, and the rise of drug cartels.
The 1990s saw all of that, along with the emergence of the internet, the rise in global terrorism, domestic terrorism, mass shootings, job outsourcing, and the economic boom sparked in the 80s began to unravel. Plus, we were cursed with NSync and the Backstreet Boys.
Don’t get me wrong. Being a teenager in the 1990s was loose and carefree. So was being a teenager in the 1980s. Heck being a teenager in the 1950s was an okay proposition. But, the fact of the matter is that we can neither return to those decades, nor can we become teenagers again. Even if we could, we’d be disappointed to find that major problems existed, even back then.
To live the human life is to live with problems. They’re numerous, and they’re critical. As Agent K said in Men In Black, “There’s always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague.” The key to finding the peace and serenity you seek in returning back to the glory days is to understand that, and to be able to live your life in spite of that. The key to doing this is to understand that God is in control of all things, and that you can trust Him to manage the uncontrollable events of your life.
If you master this, and if you learn to be thankful for the good things in your life, you will always be living in your glory days, regardless of your age, or what decade it is.