no nonsense Aidan
I was particularly amused by a recent comment about my views. I was described as living in “the 1950s,” which I found highly amusing. But when I’d had my chuckle, I got to thinking: what would it be like to be stuck in the 50s? How does the experience of my generation compare to that of my grandparents’? Have things got better or worse, easier or harder? Does Dear Cupid need a fuddy-duddy prude like me, or some-one with a somewhat more modern take on subjects of sex, relationships and morality?With my rose-tinted glasses on, as a millennial, I wish we had the degree of rigidity and structure to dating, family and religious life that we had in the 50s. A much greater percentage of people, for example would attend a church. I am not convinced that they were significantly more religious than the young of today, who I believe are simply more open about a lack of belief in God or a profound indifference. Churches, however, anchored us in to institutions that provided structures and networks, embedding us in to a community. The institution of the family did a similar thing, with kin living close together and providing mutual support to each other.Dating was a game played with clear rules: the term ‘dating’ wasn’t really in use all that much. Courtship was the done thing: people were expected to get to know each other slowly, meet families and, once the desire to commit was established, to get married. Sex outside of marriage did take place, but it wasn’t encouraged. A social pressure that is today absent made it harder to make the kinds of mistakes I see all the time now: threesomes, casual sex, multiple partners, people rushing in to sexual relationships and giving their heart and soul before they’ve even got to know each other. I love Dear Cupid: it’s a precious gift that we have this site to help and support people in a non-judgemental, compassionate way. Yet I am not convinced there would have been so much of a need for it in the 1950s.So yes, I think I am from another era. I don’t understand sex without emotions; I push people away who show any interest beyond friendship anytime soon; I think our culture is too promiscuous; I wish people did less dating and more courting; I think we’re more isolated and lonely than we used to be even with an army of technological solutions to keep networks of friends and family close; and I believe that family breakdown and the decline of religion have helped create a sense of alienation and a lack of belonging for the young that never used to exist.With all that said, I am far from naïve. That same rigidity could equally be oppressive: would we, for example, want to go back to a time where early marriage and having kids was an expectation and not a choice? Is ‘choice’ really such a bad thing? For everything I’ve said above, I know that some parents are better parents to their offspring when apart; many single parents do a fine job; many long and lasting marriages have been unhappy and kept together by pressure not to split; technology can be used to bring new connections in to our lives that we wouldn’t otherwise have. What is more, women had far fewer choices in relation to their career. Meanwhile, homosexuality was a criminal offence that could land one in jail; it was known as ‘the love that dare not speak its name.’ Domestic violence was not spoken about: in Britain it took until the 1990s for rape within marriage even to be recognised in law. An unmarried mother is nothing unusual these days, but then she risked being ostracised and scandalised. The most appalling manifestation of this was in Ireland, where unmarried mothers would be locked away in hellish Magdalene laundries, whilst their offspring would be sold to foreign couples abroad by nuns who claimed to believe in God.So on balance, I am far from stuck in the 50s, I’ve decided. I’d rather live in this day and age, where people choose how they live their lives and at least have the freedom to make mistakes. I am quite content to acknowledge that I am prudish, old-fashioned and ill-at-ease with the complex, unpredictable and uncertain world of romance and relationships these days. Yet I acknowledge something that, in the 50s I would probably not: that that’s just me. That’s who and what I am, but I don’t need or expect that others should be this way. When I give advice today, I don’t tell people who’ve made different choices to the ones I have made that they’re just plain wrong to have done so; I have to put some work in to my answers to persuade them to accept my view of their situation and take my advice. The freedom we enjoy in a post-modern era to choose different paths is something precious that we should treasure. The belief that this is something liberating and wonderful gives a traditionalist frump like me something of fundamental importance in common with the people having FWBs, threesomes and so-on all over the place who probably think folks like me are stuck in the past. I’m a thoroughly modern brand of old-fashioned.
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reader, LoveShoudntDestroy +, writes (26 November 2016):Hi there. I agree with you about having a choice today and I wanted to say that I appreciate your writing. It's well written yet easy to read and I really like how you relate certain aspects of life. I'm understanding now why your name is at the top of the list on the homepage. Pretty cool. Okay, let me get back on subject.. So I do agree that our generation is way over sexualized and vices like porn are way too easily accessible. I heard someone say that porn was more addictive than crack and everyone has it at their fingertips. Back in the day a young man was lucky to get a photo torn out of his friends dads magazine. Now kids are seeing more than most of our great grandfathers saw in a lifetime as far as sex goes anyways. I also agree that a lack of family structure and a lack of basic religious principles are missing in today's culture. Just being a good person that does the next right thing and does the same for his neighbor is not so easy to find. People have more choices but they are spiritually void,walking around like zombies trying to fill the void with anything. It may be sex, material items, gambling, drugs, alcohol, shopping, food, and more. There are plenty of void fillers and they distract us momentarily from what really matters. I believe that it starts with each individual. We all put light or dark energy in this world. I believe in God but I also believe we all have an energy that is contagious. We get up every day and we are faced with these choices. We have the ability to do what is right, or to do what is wrong. If an elderly old woman drops a $20 and no one is looking what do you do?Or if the store clerk gives you back an extra $5? What do you do? We all make mistakes, and we all have the ability.
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