“Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’” – Ecclesiastes 7:10
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Almost everyone is familiar with that famous quote from Neil Armstrong as he stepped onto the surface of the moon back on July 20, 1969, the first human being ever to do so. Even those who were not around then have heard it a thousand times, and rightly so as it was one of America’s finest moments, indeed one of history’s greatest events. Even more remarkable was that only a few short years before, May 25, 1961 to be exact, President Kennedy had issued what seemed to be at the time an impossible challenge to Congress – and the nation – in another often-repeated quote. “I believe,” he said, “that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” So, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon, we all felt that the impossible had been achieved.
Ah, those were the good-old-days, weren’t they? Or were they? For those of us who lived through the 1960’s, while the space program may have been a great triumph, it was a tumultuous decade plagued with war, violence, civil-unrest, and tragedy. It was during that same decade our country suffered the assassinations of three powerful leaders, including President Kennedy himself. Were those days really better than today?
I admit to being a real sucker for browsing around antique stores. Because much of our home is furnished with family heirlooms already, we seldom buy much. But I love looking at old things, even how they smell, which floods my mind with fond memories of times gone by. But when I think hard enough reality usually sets in to remind me of those not-so-good times that also occurred – like with the 1960’s.
“Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’” In his book Living Life Backwards author David Gibson offers this answer. “When you start asking, ‘Why was it better?’ what you are doing is denying the reality of God’s presence in the present. . . Often when we ask this, it’s because we are blind to the good things of the present and ignorant of the evil of the past.” Does that make it unhealthy to retain fond memories from days gone by? Not as long as we remember that today is a chance to create new fond memories; for God is every bit as present today and he was back then.