Freezing Time, Moving Forward… — Barkha Herman

 

The left wants to freeze time. 

The world population needs to be limited to an arbitrary number of some recent year. The air needs to be as clean as the most famous environmentalist’s memory renders. Trade needs to be at the level of the trendiest primitive society du jour. Food needs to be prepared the way someone remembers it.

The right also wants to freeze time.

Gender roles need to be stuck at the happiest memories of our most recent nostalgia. Kids ought to learn in the same way our most memorable learning was done. Families need to look like those on our most beloved sitcoms.

On both ends, though, there are those that understand that the problems of today cannot be solved by the solutions of yesterday.

The family has transitioned. We have moved from extended families to nuclear families. And we have moved from nuclear to single family. Family is important to me. I grew up in a nuclear family, the first in my extended family. My parents were the first in both their families to take that step. The grandparents before that and generations before (don’t ask how many; there is a physical journal in a temple in northern India with a catalog) lived in extended families.

In America, I met families and non-families. Single parents with kids, divorced parents with multiple sets of grandparents, extended groups of people operating as families and more traditional nuclear families. Success varied based on individual dynamics.

Statistics don’t lie. Extended families are better for individuals than nuclear families, and nuclear families are better for individuals than single-parent families. Yet, statistics don’t lie. Compared to our parents, we have many advantages. We are richer, have more luxuries, use more advanced technologies, have higher life expectancies, and have more time to indulge in communities spread across the continent.  

All is not well and some things must be changed. When the Founding Fathers wanted to change things, here’s what they did: They made a bold and ambitious declaration. Then they wrote it down — and signed it — even though it was their own death sentence. They dreamed of a world that was not in the past, but part of a brave new future. It had never been done before and I am sure there were many naysayers and nostalgic people who wanted to go back to the way things were. But the Founding Fathers looked to the future. Then, they gave everything to achieve their dreams; their possessions, their families, and their lives.

What declarations are we making today? To what document will we sign our names? For what issues are we willing to lose everything? For what ideals are we willing to die?

I invite you to look forward. Dream big. Work hard to make it happen.

Reflections are necessary — but let’s not live in the past. There is a future that has your values. Let’s declare it. Let’s make it happen.

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  1. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    Nice article, Barkha.  It’s true that people often romanticize the past (often their childhood) and picture it as a golden age that could not be improved on. Sometimes I think that many people on our side believe that conservatives are supposed to be naturally pessimistic about the future.  How many times have you read a statement along the lines of “I’m a conservative, so naturally I realize that man is fallen and things can only get worse”?

    How many people think that violent crime is up?  Think that their kids are more likely to be kidnapped than they were?  Think that cancer is killing more people than ever?  Think that pollution is worse than ever?  All those things are wrong.  I’m not saying that everything is better than it used to be, but there are many ways in which we are measurably living in a better society than our grandparents did.

    • #1
  2. user_189393 Member
    user_189393
    @BarkhaHerman

    @Randy –

    Agreed.  I am not saying things are perfect; but focusing on “the good old days” is not getting us here nor there.  Clearly there is much room for improvement.  The left has a vision for the future – right or wrong.  Unfortunately, the more time I spend in conversations with the right, the more I get the feeling that their “idea” is to either stop everything at this point (this is my pet peeve with the world view of both sides), or move backwards.

    Without a vision for the future, you will just be on someone else’s  journey.  It seems to me that while we keep drawing lines on the ground, the world moves in new and magical ways – some good and some bad.

    I do see vision in liberty minded caucuses and disruptive areas such as 3-D printing.  There are some reversals that are for the good – such as the gun laws in Illinois.  But we can not rely on turning back the time alone.   Things are going to change – this I am certain of. Are we even going to play a part in it?  Or are we just taking our toys and sit on the sidelines?

    • #2
  3. user_280840 Member
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Whenever I hear someone pine for the past, I always try to pin down when they alleged good old days actually are.

    They’re now and things are just gonna keep getting better.  Calories are cheap.  Energy is cheap.  Diseases are on their way out.  We can print guns in our homes.  And I can control my Roku using my phone.

    • #3
  4. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    Barkha Herman:

    There are some reversals that are for the good – such as the gun laws in Illinois.

    A good example of where we are winning.  Although there have been setbacks in New York, Connecticut, and Colorado, virtually every state has more freedom for law-abiding gun owners today than 30 years ago.

    What is funny is the attitude of libertarians.  We make up a small part of the electorate and practically no part of the elected.  But when you watch John Stossel or read Reason magazine, there are plenty of stories that are hopeful, that show where some city or state is moving in the right direction (typically by just getting out of the way).  Why is it that a movement that is so lacking in official power can see the bright spots between the clouds, when so many see nothing but darkness?

    • #4
  5. DocJay Member
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Let’s do the Time Warp again.

    • #5
  6. Gary The Ex-Donk Member
    Gary The Ex-Donk
    @

    Everytime I read or hear someone pine for the “good old days” I always think of that Seinfeld episode at the birthday party (the one with the kitchen fire) when George gets exasperated at the clown hired to entertain the kids (played by Jon Favreau) because he doesn’t know who Bozo is. The clown (Eric) spits back at him “You’re livin’ in the paaaaassst, man! You’re hung up on some clown from the SIXTIES!”

    I think all of us tend to only remember what was great about the past and the cruddly stuff seems to leave less of a lasting impression. Barkha is right, we would do well to acknowledge what’s good about today and tomorrow rather than just wring our hands over what we’ve “lost” as a culture.

    Ronald Reagan used to love to tell stories about the past but he always looked to the future – as an optimist. That’s why everybody loved him.

    • #6
  7. user_646010 Member
    user_646010
    @Kephalithos

    I’d love to spend my future studying the past.

    • #7
  8. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    Conservatives live by the intuition that there is a democracy of the dead, the living, and those to come. Throwing off tradition in favor of some declaration, some piece of paper, in which we imagine the world is absolutely malleable and subject to our control is folly. We often read only the “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” language in the Declaration, forgetting that it was largely a set of complaints from colonists whose primary objection to George III was his denial to them of traditional rights of Englishmen. The American Revolution was not some Jacobin enterprise, but a war fought by Englishmen for what was Englishmen’s. The idea that we can throw off the intuitions, customs, and traditions of our forbearers is a Utopian fantasy. We don’t need some new declaration, but the wisdom of knowing that the past is the best guide to the future, and that prudence is the better part of valor.
    Conservatives do not long for the past, but do understand that men are fallen and when they abandon traditional institutions for grand schemes men have set themselves on a treacherous path.

    • #8
  9. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    Eliot put this well: “dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will have to be good.”

    • #9
  10. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    Great piece Barkha. I cringe when I hear conservatives talk of “the good old days” since they weren’t that good for a lot of people. Similarly, I don’t want “another Reagan,” but rather a new leader for the unique challenges we face today.

    • #10
  11. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    Mike, I don’t believe there is anyone on Ricohet who is arguing that every traditional institution needs to be torn down so we can build a utopia.  I will say that not all of the traditional institutions have been so great, from my 21st century perspective.  After the Civil War we outlawed slavery, an institution as old as recorded history.  In traditional societies (and still today in some of the Middle East) your government told you who and how to worship.  Penalties for disobedience could be quite severe. 

    I’m not advocating that we discard every bit of wisdom that has been handed down through the ages, but I’m not going to declare that every tradition handed down from the Bronze Age is good, either.

    • #11
  12. user_517406 Member
    user_517406
    @MerinaSmith

    Meh.  Change is a process that sometimes happens stupidly and sometimes happens with wisdom.  It encompasses the past and incorporates new technology without losing sight of the understanding that human nature has some constants that must be taken into account.  We now live in stupid age.  Can we bring some wisdom to bear on how change happens?  We’re not currently doing that.  I hope we can at some point, but right now we’re floating on hubris and unreality in numerous ways.  It’s nice to be chirpy–and I am aware of the good parts of the age in which we live–but too much chirpy is not warranted, as Troy Senik’s piece on the problems beyond the reach of politics points out.

    • #12
  13. user_189393 Member
    user_189393
    @BarkhaHerman

    @Jon – I wonder how many would vote for Reagan today and how many would follow Washington into battle.  I don’t claim to know the answer.

    I’ve met Troy and was very impressed by him.  Young, handsome, charismatic, accomplished and well liked.  If Troy believes the future is bleak, then I need to find avenues of optimism elsewhere.

    Randy has a point – with no power, not money and no hope for  political success, libertarians seem so much more optimist than the right. I think it is because libertarians tend to be about ideas not short term election goals.

    We need to focus not on winning skirmishes but the war.  And wars need ideas.  Big ones.   Today’s kids need inspiration to get behind.  And all the inspirational talks are coming from the left.   

    Reagan WAS able to get the curmudgeons  thinking of a brighter future.  I am short on ideas on how to do this (no, no, not running for office or anything).  But I am building a brighter future, for the sake of my kids.  I NEED a bright future.  So I get to make it happen one way or the other.

    • #13
  14. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    Randy Weivoda:

    Mike, I don’t believe there is anyone on Ricohet who is arguing that every traditional institution needs to be torn down so we can build a utopia. I will say that not all of the traditional institutions have been so great, from my 21st century perspective. After the Civil War we outlawed slavery, an institution as old as recorded history. In traditional societies (and still today in some of the Middle East) your government told you who and how to worship. Penalties for disobedience could be quite severe.

    I’m not advocating that we discard every bit of wisdom that has been handed down through the ages, but I’m not going to declare that every tradition handed down from the Bronze Age is good, either.

     I understand that people on Ricochet don’t want to tear down traditional institutions, but I am concerned whenever there is talk of declarations about the future. Declarations suggest some Utopian goal, which has never worked out well.

    • #14
  15. user_189393 Member
    user_189393
    @BarkhaHerman

    Mike Rapkoch:

    I understand that people on Ricochet don’t want to tear down traditional institutions, but I am concerned whenever there is talk of declarations about the future. Declarations suggest some Utopian goal, which has never worked out well.

     Different things  work for different people.  Declaration of Independence worked for the founding fathers.  Peter’s “Tear Down this wall” worked for Reagan.  

    Reflection on good times seems to be the thing for some – so revel in it, Mike.

    • #15
  16. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    Barkha Herman:

    Mike Rapkoch:

    I understand that people on Ricochet don’t want to tear down traditional institutions, but I am concerned whenever there is talk of declarations about the future. Declarations suggest some Utopian goal, which has never worked out well.

    Different things work for different people. Declaration of Independence worked for the founding fathers. Peter’s “Tear Down this wall” worked for Reagan.

    Reflection on good times seems to be the thing for some – so revel in it, Mike.

     But you ignore certain historical facts, as laid out in my original comment, especially that the Declaration is a protest by Englishmen over their belief that they were denied the traditional rights and protections of Englishmen. The Declaration was not a radical document, but a statement of tradition. And by the way, it was not the idealists and seekers of great vision who wrote the Constitution, it was the Tories.

    I will revel in the traditions and customs out of which true freedom and human progress arises. The present generation did not receive what they were given as some unfettered gift, but as a Trust, and owe a debt to their ancestors, and a duty to their children.

    • #16
  17. user_517406 Member
    user_517406
    @MerinaSmith

    Barkha, if the left is inspirational, it is in a very shallow, unrealistic and, frankly, dishonest way.  That kind of talk does not, I guarantee you, lead to any kind of salutary change.  Just sayin’.

    • #17
  18. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    I, too, bristle at talk of “the good old days” (and I had a near-perfect childhood). But I got to enjoy my dad til he was 85 (outliving his own dad by 50 years) thanks to advances in medicine. My daughter just a generation ago would have surely died of menangitis and I don’t dare think about how baby #4 would have fared without the emergency C-Section.

    But I have one big, bold proposal whose effects would be profound: school vouchers. And who says schools have to be big? Let’s go forward with school vouchers that can be used in a model from the past, the one-room school house.

    Edited to include this video of Public School teachers abusing special needs children: http://www.wvec.com/home/Abuse-of-special-needs-kids-caught-on-hidden-camera–256374711.html

    • #18
  19. user_189393 Member
    user_189393
    @BarkhaHerman

    Merina Smith:

    Barkha, if the left is inspirational, it is in a very shallow, unrealistic and, frankly, dishonest way. That kind of talk does not, I guarantee you, lead to any kind of salutary change. Just sayin’.

     That is the heart of the problem.  We observe shortcomings in other sources of inspirations, and all we do is just say….
    How, Merina Smith, will you inspire the next generation of voters?  You have a grand example of your own life’s story to tell.  You have a fantastic family – an exemplary life you should be proud of.  How many people’s mind have you changed?  How many have you reached out to?

    My point is that we need to inspire the younger generation.  Yes, the good old days are valid.  But what is your vision for tomorrow?  How will you inspire the friends of your grand children?  How will you get them to be the citizens of the future you can be prod of?

    • #19
  20. user_189393 Member
    user_189393
    @BarkhaHerman

    Annefy:

    But I have one big, bold proposal whose effects would be profound: school vouchers. And who says schools have to be big? Let’s go forward with school vouchers that can be used in a model from the past, the one-room school house.

     I am glad to hear your perspective, Ann.  The school choice movement is gaining momentum.  I hold talks in my region to get parents to think out of the box for this very reason.  How many parents realize that the Government spends more money on their children to send them to a failing public school than a decent private school?  My findings – not many.  So, education (of parents) is key.  Ann – I invite you to check out Dr. Friedman’s website – and let me know if you are interested in promoting school choice agenda in your area.  I can provide materials to help you.  If your goal is vouchers, then you need to first get parents too look outside the public school box.  Choice is the first step towards it.

    • #20
  21. Pilli Member
    Pilli
    @Pilli

    Kephalithos:

    I’d love to spend my future studying the past.

     I’ve spent most of my past studying the future.

    • #21
  22. user_280840 Member
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    I need to repeat that: I can control my [expletive] Roku from my [expletive] phone!

    • #22
  23. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Fred Cole: I need to repeat that: I can control my [expletive] Roku from my [expletive] phone!

    Had to look up what a Roku is.  Some television thing.  Passing fad.  Like computers.  We’ll be back to pen, paper, and books before you know it.  Ah, the good old days.

    The previous paragraph was brought to you by Tongue-in-Cheek Services.

    • #23

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