The last 50 years: Then and now


I often read "I wish things were the way they use to be" and to some extent I agree. There are many aspects to past times I would love see returned, but equally, there are other aspects I am glad have changed. Like all things, we view the past with rose coloured glasses and we are quick to find fault in the present. I decided to write a list of the "then and now" to see some of the changes that have occurred over the last 50 years or so.

Even if the present isn't perfect (nor was the past), we must always remember that this is just a temporary home and we are passing through this life to something far more beautiful and perfect. 

"For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:18)


Then
  • Dad worked and mum stayed at home
  • Three to six children per family
  • Married women were not allow to work in many industries
  • Dad often stayed in one job his whole career working his way up the ladder
  • Most homes only had one car
  • Women cooked from scratch
  • Food was bought from a variety of shops - the butcher, the baker, the grocer
  • Large shopping malls were unheard of
  • There no such thing as "fast-food" outlets
  • It was a "do-it-yourself" mentality and fix what was broken
  • Dad mowed the lawns and mum look after the inside of the home
  • Mum sewed and knitted much of the household clothes
  • Church on Sundays followed by midday roast
  • Marriage was valued and desired by most
  • Neighbourhood connection
  • Personally knew the local doctor or policeman
  • Holidays were simple, often staying with friends and family or a trip to the seaside
  • Entertainment involved the family playing board games in the evening
  • Reading books was a popular way to pass away the time
  • Household gadgets included the washing machine and vacuum cleaner
  • Families were content to stay at home in the evenings
  • Children did not attend after school activities
  • Gifts were often handmade or inexpensive
  • Families saved up for big items
  • Children played outside on the street with other children in the neighbourhood
  • Children walk to the corner store on their own
  • The front door of many houses were not locked
  • Many families rented their homes
  • Parents stayed together, divorce was not talked about in public
  • Hotels shut at 6pm
  • Shops were not open on Sundays
  • Polio killed or maimed many
  • Children died from German Measles
  • People died from cancers in higher numbers and mothers died in childbirth
  • Life expectancy was 67 (in the 1960s)
  • Unmarried mothers were ostracised and many had their children forcibly taken away from them
  • Rape and domestic violence when unreported
  • Abortion was rare and illegal
  • Very poor families gave up children they could no longer look after
  • Indigenous children were taken away from their families and placed in "white" homes
  • Women suffered from depression and given valium
  • No universal nest egg (superannuation) for retirement 

Family and community was considered far more important 50 years ago compared with today. In general, people cared about each other, they looked out for those on their street, they were willing to lend a hand, the children all attended the same school, often the same church and played together in the street. Life was a lot safer, much quieter and simpler. Families did not run up huge debts as they do today and they were more willing to save to buy those big ticket items (whereas we just rely on credit). As a result of WW2, families were frugal and much more like to fix items around the home, it wasn't the throw-away society we have today. Over the last 50 years we have seen more and more women move into the workforce for a variety of reasons - 50 years ago things like childcare didn't exist, mothers had more time for helping out at school, and dedicating themselves to their homes - many children worn handmade clothes, mum knitted numerous jumpers and families ate meals cooked from scratch and dad took sandwiches for lunch at work. Eating out was a treat. It was a much healthier society. 

However, it wasn't all glossy. More babies died at birth, unmarried women had their infants "stolen" from them in the name of adoption, polio and measles killed, women who were raped were not given full justice, divorce wasn't fair, more people died in car accidents (no safety belts) and if you were indigenous it was possible to find yourself removed from your own family and placed in a "white" home. In other parts of the world we had apartheid and violence against blacks. Whilst many more women were at home, many were not happy and we see the increase of valium "mummy's little helper". Whilst you have a chose about being at home, these women did not and that creates a feeling of being trapped. 

As for technology, whilst the computer had been invented and used during WW2, it was 
beyond comprehension that one day you could send messages around the world in seconds. However TV had been invented and families had cheap entertainment at home, it was the start of the TV dinner.

How times have changed as they always do:

Now

  • Mum and dad both work
  • People will experience many different jobs in their lifetime
  • One to three children
  • Many homes have two cars
  • Most people own their own home, or have a mortgage
  • Outsourcing of many household services and chores
  • Meals no longer cooked from scratch
  • Much of the food purchased in processed
  • Food bought from large and impersonal supermarket
  • Fast-food outlets on every corner
  • Lack of connect with neighbours
  • Sporting events more popular to church
  • Large shopping malls full of shops
  • Throw away mentality, if it breaks, buy a new one
  • Planned obsolesces built into many of our products
  • Relentless spending using the credit card
  • Children spend their afternoons doing organised "activities"
  • Children play inside with electronic devices
  • Playing on the streets considered too dangerous
  • Frequent and expensive holidays overseas
  • Hotels and pubs stay open late
  • Shops are open 7 days a week
  • Children expect toys bought outside of birthdays and Christmas.
  • Unmarried mothers receive financial support and allow to keep their babies
  • Rape and domestic violence taken more seriously
  • Very poor families receive help from the government in the form of pensions
  • Polio has been eradicated in western nations
  • Infant mortality is declining
  • Life expectancy is 84 years for women
  • Men still committing suicide at high levels
  • Most children go onto further education
  • Women can work in almost any employment area
  • Women receive equal pay to their male colleagues
  • Medical devices change people lives - pacemakers, cochlear implants
  • Cars are safer
  • We can call a person no matter where we are
  • Knowledge is at our finger tips
  • Computers are solving the unsolvable

Life has changed so much in 50 years. Family is no longer consider as important as it once was, many no longer know their neighbours, or care about those around them and it is not safe for children to play outside in public spaces anymore. It is far more dangerous for women to walk alone after dark in many areas. People no longer respect others and manners are disappearing fast.  People are far ruder to each other, care less about each other and have become much more aggressive in their interactions with others. We live in a society that is more about "me" and less about "us". People live in their own little worlds and show no interest in reaching out to those less fortunate or in need of help. 


However the advancement of medical science now saves many more lives, few babies die, we have removed the threat of polio from society, many survive infections and cancers but we are yet to find a cure for dementia. We now have a welfare system that protects unmarried mothers, a woman can escape violent marriages without ramifications and women have the choose between working or not working. 

The world has shrunk via the computer and one can chat with or buy from anyone around the globe. We can travel quickly between nations, communicate 24/7 and trade has created much wealth. 

Our standard of living has improved but we are not happier. We have become a society focused on material goods, we have long lists of "things" we believe we need and we aren't willing to save to buy them. We live off credit. 

Marriages are on the decline, young people no longer see the value of marriage, rather co-habit with their partner. Many households are two income so families can afford to pay for expensive mortgages and numerous bills. Many children are placed in childcare for hours on end. Mum no longer has time to home cook, she is too busy running around taking her children to the many different after school activities. Divorce is higher than it should be, too many children live in single parents homes. All in all, we are seeing the decline of the traditional family structure.  Families are suffering from the endless pressure forced upon them by the workplace and goverment and some have decided to simplify their lives and move away from the materialistic lifestyle back to how it use to be. 

But like all change, it comes at a cost. We live in a society with high levels of pressure on individuals, many are not coping. Mental health is on the rise, suicide rates are not dropping. Whilst the internet is invaluable, it has brought pornography and gambling into the home and led to broken marriages and abuse. Abortion is now freely available to all women, millions of unborn children have died as a result. Our desire to think of "me" first has had severe consequences. 

We haven't stopped war, terrorism is worse than ever. The innocent still die, countries are still suffering from famine and horror. Women are still being raped, domestic violences leads to one death per week in Australia of innocent women and children. We think we are so clever, and in some levels we are. However it has all come at a great cost. 

But sadly - all the clever things we have achieve, they have been done by man for man and certainly not done for the glory of God. In fact, as we see the rise in the "me generation", we have see the rapid decline on the desire to worship the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour. 

Is this world a better place - yes and no. 

But remember, there is only one home that will be perfect for us - with no pain or suffering, no hurt or worry, no anger or violence, a place so perfect it is almost impossible to imagine. 


Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 
(John 14:1-4)
****

Comments

  1. Your now and then list are spot on. We have come so far, yet it has created the generation of self-entitlement.

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    Replies
    1. Yes we have - we do believe we have the right to get anything we ask for. Very sad.

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  2. Definitely not better. Sure we live longer, and more physically pain-free, but there are emotional, social and spiritual losses - immensely so.
    We can only look up, and on to that glorious home, it will be by far better!
    love,
    Bets

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    Replies
    1. As you say - we have made improvements but the cost to some has been far too high. Our only home is waiting for us and that will be perfect.

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  3. Thanks for sharing! Your lists really made me think. We have so much now that we just take for granted too and I've been considering a lot of this as I've been trying to teach gratefulness to our kids. We've worked hard to make sure to not over-schedule ourselves and fall into some of these modern traps, but it is interesting to think of it as culture because it is so influential that we just accept it without much thought. It is such a good reminder to be intentional about life and serving God since without intentionality, we will just fall back into cultural norms. And if we aren't any different, people miss the chance to see the difference Christ makes in us. Hence one of the reasons we do foster care and try to reach out to those in our community. Thanks!
    -S.L. Payne, uncommongrace.net

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    Replies
    1. We try hard to not have any activities during the week so we don't have to rush about and get worn out. It means we can have dinner and put our feet up and enjoy the evening quietly. I don't know how families manage with so many after school activities. Its exhausting just thinking about them.

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  4. The world has changed a lot from the way it was. Physically, we're better off. Spiritually, I think we're worse off. But God has not changed. He stands with open arms, ready to receive us as we come unto Him with a humble and contrite heart.

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    1. You said something I missed - whilst we change (and not for the better), God never changes and that is so important. Thanks for reminding me.

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  5. We've made wonderful improvements in health care and technology, and I think we are more sensitive to the plight of the poor and disenfranchised. But any nation that marginalizes God and does not worship the Lord is going to reap trouble for itself. We think we're so smart, but we've lost sight of the most important thing.
    But, like you say, this is not our real home; it's not surprising that we feel out of place.
    Very interesting list, thanks for putting it together.

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    Replies
    1. God is no longer in the minds of most people and if He is it isn't very often and I think this will only get worse in the coming years.

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  6. I think we're heading back into dark ages, honestly. Some of the medical advances have been truly amazing and wonderful, but not all of it is great... especially when you think about how some medicine causes other problems, or at time inappropriately prolongs life and in the process reduces quality of life to nothing, and as you wrote in a post before, resulting in the abolition of dignity. Some medicine is just plain stupid and causes illness rather than curing it. Too much of medicine these days is about covering up symptoms rather than getting to the root cause and trying to treat that. We've noticed more and more of that as time passes... Doctors today almost have their hands tied, I think - under pressure to abide by rules that often make little or no sense.

    On the whole, while technology is great in that it has opened the world up, I think it has a vast array of negative consequences that most people rarely pause to consider... Consequences that will push society back into a form of the dark ages... Such as declining intelligence (because the computer does it all for you, so you don't have to think anymore, you don't have to read books or truly research anymore, etc - this is a massive disadvantage especially for young people who go through the school system today). It makes people like "zombies", unsocial and incapable, addicted to vices and devices, destroys creativity and health, really.

    The world is also heading into a spiritual black hole. This is not a time to be listening to other people and following fads if we are true believers - we need to be turning to the Scriptures (which never change like societies change; the Scriptures are always pertinent!) and living exemplary lives for the sake of the gospel. Speaking of which, just living godly lives isn't enough (a lot of people seem to think it is!) - we also need to be spreading the gospel and speaking for Christ at every opportunity because this world is such a dark place and people desperately need to hear the good news!

    And, of course then there's the loss of honour that is so evident today as people are so focused on themselves and their "advance" in life that they couldn't care less about others - career focused, self focused. It's ugly and it's worse than ever, I believe - in every part of life. You see it in the church, the home, work places, industry. Ugh.

    When reading your post, I was reminded of a Scripture verse: "Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this." (Ecclesiastes 7:10) It is much more prudent to live in the present and live victoriously in our current society/times than it is to be wishing for days gone by (what profit is there in that?!). It is interesting to learn about the past and it is fascinating to see how things used to be compared with now - I really enjoyed reading your lists! It is good to learn from the past - glean what was good and put it into practice - that is very beneficial... but it's not good to whine about wishing things were like they used to be as some people seem to do! :/ It would be wonderful to see some of the great things about the past (in your list) come back into use/common practice though!! :)

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    Replies
    1. Oops! I guess you could say that you hit on one of my "soap boxes"/pet peeves!! That comment ended up being super long! :P

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    2. I think we are seeing some reversals in households - people wishing to live more simply, saving money and living of credit, growing their own vegetables, reducing the amount of time they spend on their computers etc, Sadly, we aren't talking about many families, but at least some are see the sense to make changes to their lives.

      Whilst there are many aspects I do really love about now, I do miss the simpler life - a time when it was safer, when not everyone had to rush out and buy the latest "thing". When we weren't driven by money and goods (we don't really need).

      Its always good to have a good discussion about things!!!

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  7. I saw your post on a couple 'hops, but at The Art of Homemaking first :)
    I'm slowly reading through it, as I work on a few other things as well. Thanks for writing.

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