You can’t have it both ways…….

you cant have it both ways


by Kenneth Justice

~The other day at coffee I overheard a couple women talking to each other and complaining about the way girls dressed ‘now-a-days’

“Its so disgusting how these girls dress now-a-days, they dress like women and they should be dressing like children!” said the first woman

“Your right! Back in the good ole’ days children dressed like children, none of these short-shorts or skimpy blouses” said the second woman

Then yesterday afternoon one of my clients was telling me about the shooting that took place in Washington DC in which 11 people were killed, “When I was younger that kind of s**t just didn’t happen. The world’s gone crazy lately, its not like it used to be” he told me.

I’ve heard the phrase ‘good ole’ days’ more times throughout my life than I can count. Supposedly these ‘good ole’ days’ were an amazing era in human history. During the ‘good ole’ days’;

–) Crime didn’t exist

–) Premarital sex didn’t exist

–) Injustice didn’t exist

–) Sin didn’t exist

REALLY???  Could someone please enlighten me on when exactly these ‘good ole’ days’ occurred because somehow I missed out on reading about this portion of history in grammar school, high school, and college. Actually, I’ve never read of any era close to something I would want to refer to as the ‘good ole’ days’.

Lets pause for a moment and consider what life was really like back in the ‘good ole’ days’;

–) It wasn’t until the 20th century that women could vote! Throughout most of human history women have always been treated like second class citizens.

–) For hundreds of years blacks were enslaved by whites and it wasn’t until the late 20th century in the United States that the Civil Rights Act was passed and African-Americans were finally acknowledged to be equal citizens with whites

–) Throughout most of humanity’s history children (especially females) have been treated like the ‘property’ of their parents and marriages were arranged which meant children had no say in who they would be forced to spend the rest of their lives with.

So to borrow Steve Martin’s line, Well excuseeeeeee me…..but what was so great about these ‘good ole’ days again?Could we all stop living in the world of delusions and enter the realm of truth; there have always been problems in every era of human history.

There is nothing new under the sun 

But what about girls and the way they are dressing ‘now-a-days’? Let us consider for a moment the style of dress throughout much of the Victorian era. For hundreds of years (thousands?) children dressed remarkably similar to adults. How can that be? The Victorian Era? “But I thought the Victorian Era was a very conservative era of human history?” How could children be dressing like adults back then? Look at any paintings of children from that period and you will see pictures of ‘little adults’; children who are portrayed in the same type of clothes and demeanor as adults from that era.

Beethoven at age 13 - Courtesy of Wikipedia

Beethoven at age 13 – Courtesy of Wikipedia





you cant have it both ways

Photo of two 13 year old’s by Kenneth Justice

According to one article, “Wealthy children in the early part of this time were frequently dressed like miniature adults” Miniature adults……interesting phrase. Isn’t that what we are seeing in our era; a return to a time when children are often dressing like miniature adults?

Oddly enough, this article is not specifically about styles of dress and clothing. Yesterday’s shooting in Washington D.C. sparked a lot of conversation among my various circles of friends and the comment of my one client was fairly representational of what a lot of people told me, “Things like this just didn’t happen back-in-the-day“.

However, as much as we would like to think shoots, mass murder, injustice, crime, and other such societal ills did not occur ‘back-in-the-day’…..the simple fact of the matter is that they did occur.

There is nothing new under the sun.

The weapons of warfare and evil have changed in varying degrees, but the potential of evil and crime being carried out has remained constant throughout every era of human history. Perhaps this is why many of us were disappointed  with President Obama’s attitude toward the conflict in Syria; it was business as usual, yet another leader who believes the way to bring peace….is to add to war.

I feel a headache coming on, time for another cup of coffee



Categories: Culture & Society

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50 replies

  1. How odd that everything is compared to times we are not living in. That adults now where the children of those days braking with the past.
    “Instead of comparing to the past we should consider keeping the future from getting worse than today”

  2. All these things happened, of course they did. The difference being that with today’s media we see and hear a lot more of/about those things, and they may seem more prevalent because of this.
    Good post, enjoy that coffee while I sleep.

  3. Looking at History realistically is certainly the most important way to learn from our mistakes. I believe that facing the truth about reality is so painful that denial exists. People will describe to their children a version of their history that will manipulate how they want them to see things. I have found the opposite to be more effective. I told my 8th grader about my insecurities at her age and how I dressed to get attention. I told her that the attention I ended up getting was not what I wanted at all. She changed her clothes when she found the same to be true in her life. I believe sharing the not so pretty version of real history helped her to make her own personal choices easier. History lessons all around. Live and Learn.

  4. “Childhood” is an invention of the 17th and 18th Centuries when there was a developing middle class and sufficient money to allow children to be anything but “little adults”

    Also the two girls in that picture are about as sweet and innocent (looking) as any I’ve ever seen. (I’ve had two daughters and I know the difference between innocent and innocent-looking.)

    • Yes. The sociologist Neil Postman believed that childhood can find its direct origin in the invention of the printing press. He spends his entire book “The Disappearance of Childhood” dwelling on the subject of when childhood was ‘invented’ and how it is currently ‘disappearing’.

    • oh and btw; I’m glad you think they are sweet and innocent…I do too 🙂 I didn’t want to choose a picture of young women that was unflattering 🙂

    • Interesting. I understood “teenager” to be a modern social construct, but I hadn’t thought that childhood generally was seen the same way. It makes sense, though– I read a lot more accounts of working class/”working poor” individuals, especially children of immigrants, assuming a lot more “adult” responsibility than their peers that are much more well-off socioeconomically.

  5. A big discussion really. I think that when someone refers to the good old days, he refers to a specific matter.

    But in total I do believe that my father lived in better days, after the Greek junta in 1974, where finding a job was easy, where buying a house was not a dream (or a nightmare), where the pay was good and time for the kids and for vacation was more.When they had better education, health and stronger neighbour and family ties.That you had no fear to leave your kids playing in the streets, where bullying at school was a rare phenomenon, where experience was prefered over possession and games on the street over games on the computer. Where there was an equilibrium in nature and human’s existence. Where the stock market wasn’t in control. When we were not so far remote from our roots and the country. When a suicide was really so unique that it was front page news, while now, with over 3500 confirmed suicides since the beginning of the crisis, they don’t even mention them, in the inner pages. And many many more examples.

    Maybe I over simplify things, that I have only experienced as a kid, without the burden of responsibility for myself or other human beings. Yet, my father has expressed with regret that my generation is (and will be) having it very hard.

    Maybe it was a fine era only in Greece, but I think that it was for many other western countries as well.

    So, really, some days are better than others.

    • By the way, headache and coffee may be the wrong combination. Coffee and high blood pressure are connected and usually headaches have their origins in pressure. .

    • And in the good old days we had an excellent Steve Martin film every other year. Where is he now?

    • Dude, i totally agree! I miss seeing a new Steve Martin film every year……I think I’ve seen every film he ever made. As to where he is; he spends his time touring with his band lol! He plays the banjo.

    • yea, i think this might have to do with location.

      Cuz if you were black living in the United States during the 1960’s and 1970’s life wasn’t so great. Discrimination was rampant all over our country.

      Plus, in the late 70’s and early 80’s here in the U.S. we had major economic problems that didn’t settle down till the mid-80’s.

      Also, lets consider South Africa; Apartheid didn’t even end till the 1980’s! So life in South Africa sucked if you weren’t white.

      So I think you’re pointing out something that is correct; there are certain elements in the past that might of been better for ‘some people’ but we definitely need to look at the past with perspective.

  6. Hey, I grew up in the good ole days – the 1950s and 60s. Black people were still being lynched with impunity, rape victims were routinely blamed for their own rapes, standard police procedure was shoot first, ask questions later – I could go on. There were mass killings, too, although that number has spiraled out of control in recent years. I say let’s get back to the good ole days – leave the killing to the pros.

  7. I say this all the time: “It’s not that it didn’t happen back then, but because of the lack of media back then, we hardly heard about it.”

  8. Thanks for the interesting post. Comments like the one you overheard live in nostalgia (projecting a golden age – ‘the good ol’ days) and they project onto children the lost sense of innocence we experience in our adulthoods.

    Either one is an illusion is dashed by the likes of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies or Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. “Perhaps this is why many of us were disappointed with President Obama’s attitude toward the conflict in Syria; it was business as usual, yet another leader who believes the way to bring peace….is to add to war. I feel a headache coming on, time for another cup of coffee.”

    I’m with you. I too was disappointed by the President’s embrace of a military option and by his appeal to the insidious belief that America is exceptional. We are not the exception to history, and any such presumptions of innocence or goodness quickly become the grounds for great evil.

  9. Every generation says exactly the same thing. I agree with you completely. There were no “good old days.” No penicillin etc., life was hard. People died young and yet someone was still standing up in a church or town meeting and bitching about the rotten kids and what they were doing NOW. The music, the way they dance, the clothes they wear, the way they do whatever. Well, I know I was one of those kids and that’s what life is. When you are a teenager you ARE that teenager and you do what teenagers of that time DO because you ARE living at that time and that’s what is happening/going on. The kids do thing the things they are doing are bad or evil it’s the adults who put their own spin on things and make it what it is in their own mind. Do I agree with everything that’s happening? No, not really but I’m not a teenager and I KNOW THAT and I remember what it was like to BE ONE. Sex, drugs and rock and roll.

  10. I believe that crime, bullying, “immoral” dress and other debauchery has always existed. I just think that prior to the 90’s there just wasn’t as much world-wide communication about it. There wasn’t the same need to sensationalize the news. Bad things happened, no one talked about it. Then there was the big trend to put it all out there, to air everyone’s dirty laundry, to raise public awareness, etc…Now we all know about every little thing that happens and pass our judgement. It has always been there, we just acknowledge it more now than back in the “good ole’ days”

  11. Love this post! “ Could someone please enlighten me on when exactly these ‘good ole’ days’ occurred because somehow I missed out on reading about this portion of history in grammar school, high school, and college,” brings home your point. People tend to look at the past, 10 years ago, or 100 yeLolars ago, through rose-colored lenses, and everything looks better. The grass is always greener on the other side right? Because it’s fertilized with bull crap! Lol The truth is there was good and bad things about the good ol days.

  12. Well back in the good ole days: I was born and raised in a housing project . . . we fought, but we fought with our fists. . . the only drug was alcohol . . . there were no guns . . . and people did seem to get along better. I could go next door and borrow an egg or a stick of butter, or even eat if I wanted to . . . . so on the local scene It was better in my experience.

    We still believed the president had our best interest at heart, but that was because of ignorance. We believed (at first) in Vietnam and the domino theory, but that was because of ignorance.

    We believed in the church, but that was because of ignorance. . . . (there’s more)

    We came out of the sixties believing in nothing and it hasn’t changed much since . . . and our lack of belief has not made the US a better place . . . we are less ignorant, but worse off in so many ways i could write a book. . . . \

    Actually I would honestly say for me and all those I knew it WAS a good old days . . .

  13. I’m not sure I agree that children are starting to dress like adults- I think children/teenagers are increasingly the only ones ‘allowed’ to wear certain (revealing) styles. I’m only 20, so I don’t know much but it seems to me it went something like this;

    – children were just small adults- same tasks, same jobs, same food.
    – compulsory schooling began- separating off children from adults
    – teenagers were invented- teddy boys, etc
    – 70s- divergent fashions intensified between 15-25 year olds and over 25s
    and now, we have separate foods and drinks for the under 10s, then they are in their ‘Prime’ from 10 to 25- skimpy clothes encouraged.Then past that- they have to stick to a modest uniform- their youth is gone, all down hill from here. No ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ please.

    So, the ‘children’ stage used to start at about 15 but now is about 10, or possibly 8. But the idealisation/obsession with youth means that no one even wants to be an adult. It’s not children becoming adults, it’s adults becoming old and irrelevant.

    But of course – that’s not how I look at it. The older you get, the more stories you have to tell (not that that makes you wiser) so I hope I haven’t offended anyone- I just mean that what it feels like to me, here in England in 2013.

  14. Funny… didn’t we just remember on Sunday the bombing that took place 50 years ago at a church, killing four little girls in Birmingham, AL?? Since when did violence just never happen back in the old days?

  15. I am getting seriously behind reading your posts.
    The myth of the “good old days” has been around for at least 2500 years. Solomon also said, “Do not say, ‘Oh, for the former days’. This does not come from wisdom.”

  16. You are correct. All these abuses existed in the past, but in modern times it is impossible to hide them.

  17. I appreciate the issue you raise here. When I think of the time frame in which people refer to as “the good ol’ days,” I think perhaps asking any woman or ethnic minority in the United States that endured that time would give a vastly different perspective. The “good ol’ days” seem to be a manifestation of this ultraworld of naivete’ and bliss that could not possibly exist in reality; only an idealized backstory of what the past was that is spawned out of minds that have forgotten many painful details.

    • of course this is not an all or nothing approach . . . I think we all realize that parts of this country namely the south for blacks was pretty damn bad, but in my experience and (experience rules over hearsay every time) even the blacks in my neck of the woods had it better. . . .

      the factories were wide open and everybody who wanted a job had one at a good wage. The black neighborhoods were much safer, as I was a meter reader for the gas company, I can attest to that. . . I had been in every basement in the neighborhood lots of times never had a problem til the factories closed and the work force got dumped onto the streets . . .

      I don’t really think you younger folks realize how different things were in the fifties and sixties than now . . . did bad things happen of course 50’s were pretty mellow, but the sixties was crazy wild, but even then the mood wasn’t as dark as it is these days . . .

  18. I remember the good old days, when “regular people” couldn’t buy semiautomatic weapons. The mentally ill members of our society (and everyone else) were limited to knives, revolvers and single shot rifles/shotguns.

  19. A thought, I remember walking around my college campus once and realizing that I was, in fact, in the “good ole days” right at that moment. I realized how much I’d miss that campus, and it near sent me into a panic. Maybe there is safety in hindsight. 😉 But yes, I agree that people tend to have selective memory.

  20. You make some really great points! I agree that we need to look at our history before judging our present. However, until now – I don’t believe there’s anywhere in the recorded history of the United States when kids brought guns to school and decided to kill their teachers/fellow students until the last 20 years or – like they did in Columbine and the school in Cleveland 2 hours from where I live, and sadly other places as well. However, you’re right. There’s no some mythical golden age that was totally free from violence, oppression, slavery or war and the like, and the way kids dress now is no worse than the hippies of the 60s when girls wore really short skirts and frequently didn’t wear bras and such. Hell even on Star Trek – though they’ve cured hunger and disease, and people rarely kill for money (except the Farengue, of course), etc., there’s still violence of some sort in the original series and every movie and spinoff since. So, the good ‘ol days is very slanted view indeed.

    That said, THANKS for reading my blog, and I look forward to reading more of your posts! 🙂

  21. This was an awesome article and I always laugh at the thought of children today becoming adults and talking about these ‘good ole days’ to kids in the future.

  22. Guess old folks are just jealous of the fun the kids are having these days. There were no good ole days, humans have always remained the same, it’s that just we are more exposed to the world due to the technology. Only good ole days I can remember is my childhood, mainly because I was too naive to understand the world then.

  23. I read somewhere that handwringing over “the good old days” went back even to classical Greece and Rome. There was worrying about print destroying the oral tradition, and corruption of youth (which was Socrates’ crime, according to Plato). So, I rather laugh when I read about fears of digital media destroying print, or another variation of the moral fiber of our country disintegrating, especially if it’s written like it was a new thing.

  24. LOL! Enjoyed the post and the history of the “good old days” here too. I guess we’re living in the next couple of decade’s “good old days” now, so we might as well enjoy them! I think it all comes down to the fact that we don’t like change but we do seem to like worry about stuff, so I guess it will around for generations to come.

  25. the one thing i would say though is that adults back then were covered up… so having mini-adults isn’t shocking or even bad. mini-adults now emulate folks like miley cyrus… not the same thing. i think mini-adults and i tend to think of those ridiculous toddler pageants which are the worst thing ever in my mind. talk about growing children up far too early. bad things did happen back in the day but i think what people are really trying to get at is that there wasn’t the same level of stressed out/angry/frustrated folks lashing out like they do now. that’s not to say that it never happened, it’s just different than how it was back then. our problems now aren’t the ones we had back then. there were different problems and so it could be said they were the good ole’ days in certain respects, just not in all. i do generally agree though that our idea of good ole days can get pretty skewed.

  26. Each generation/ time has it’s respective good and bad bits. Just as their are atrocities occurring now, there were also many (as you have outlined) in previous times.

    What I do think we see more of now is the sharing of information. With the internet and communication platforms become more readily available, we are exposed to SO MUCH MORE of what is taking place around the world and even in our own backyards, than what we have ever been in recent years.

    There are pros and cons to this. Yes it is wonderful to know whats going on, but on the downside we see so much of it, we become immune.

    I think it is positive people make comparisons, though fundamentally we all need to be responsible for ourselves, our own experiences (including how we think and feel) and spend some time working on sorting through the issues closest to home, rather than placing judgement on others.

    ‘Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.’
    Dalai Lama

  27. *Immune was NOT a good word… ‘Desensitized’ works better there 🙂


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