When Was Your Time Best?

I was listening to local talk radio the other day and heard some comments from people complaining about our times.  They mentioned the show “American Graffiti”, George Lucas’ classic film about growing up at the end of the 1950s and they wished they could go back to those times.  It got me to thinking?  When was the best time to live?  Are we living in the best time?  How about these times?

The Seventies?
America was entrenched in the Vietnam Conflict for half of this decade.  Violence was spreading to our college campuses (Kent State and Jackson State) and there was a definitive lack of trust with our leaders.  Terrorism was running rampant throughout Europe and the Middle East, there were gas shortages and the country was in the midst of high inflation and then recession. Housing rose to an all time high with over 20 per cent interest.  Finally, by the end of the decade, our embassy was invaded in Iran with 53 Americans taken hostage.  They would remain there until 1981.  The seventies was not that uplifting of a decade…so maybe….

The Sixties?
The music was good, however, we also were fighting in a war that no one wanted to be in. There was a secret war going on with Russia called the Cold War.  Espionage was rampant.  Worse still, we had the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr, Medgar Evers, and Malcolm X.  The environment was in trouble – in fact, it was in 1969 that the Cuyahoga River caught on fire in Cleveland, causing the city to be given the nickname “The Mistake on the Lake”.  OK, so it must have been…

The Fifties?
This was a great decade to live in.  It was the generation of Leave It To Beaver, great family values, and “American Graffiti”.  However, it wasn’t the generation to live in if you were black, gay, Mexican or a woman.  The attitude towards these people was deplorable and it was definitely the time to be a white male.  Additionally, to stop the wave of Communism, you had veterans fighting in and returning from the Korean War where we spent two of those years, it was the nuclear age and people were so afraid of a war, we had children hiding under their desks.  Also, to make matters worse, a Senator from Wisconsin, named Joe McCarthy, was pulling in people left and right and accusing them of being “Commies”.    Just the assumption that you might be communist was a reason to be blacklisted from work and normal life in Leave-It-To-Beaver-America.  Even if it was against our Bill of Rights, it went on, so this was not the age to live in….so it must have been…

The Forties?
This age was romanticized when they spoke of “America’s Greatest Generation”.  These were the boys that fought in World War 2.  How great was it really? Our boys died by the thousands.  Eighteen year olds forced to see and do the worst that humans can afflict on others.  The forties destroyed a generation of young men.  Everyone knew someone who had been injured or killed in the name of war.  If you consider this, it really wasn’t such a good time to live in…

So It Had To Have Been Another Generation…
It seems that no matter what decade you’ve lived in, it wasn’t as rosy as people make it out to be.  Maybe they just don’t remember the way things used to be, maybe they are only taking what they’ve heard as the truth.  What it comes down to is that we’re not living in as bad of times as we may think.  The one thing that is certain is that this is our time and we have to make the most of it – no matter how good or bad we think it is.