On the Halloween Express

Tomorrow is Halloween. I hope you have a good one.

I mentioned St. Wolfgang of Regensberg, All Hallows’ and All Souls’ Day, and the autumnal equinox last year.

Also Gaelic and Welsh traditions, jack-o’-lanterns, and Easter eggs.

Enjoying my culture’s traditions, within reason, makes sense. To me.

It’s arguably better than bitter bewailing stuff I can’t change: and don’t want to.

I haven’t run across anyone going ballistic over holiday-related rampant wantonness this year. Or is it wanton rampantness?

Anyway, I haven’t seen any of the once-prevalent Halloween angst.

I haven’t looked, either.

There’s plenty of angst, dread and weltschmerz flooding my news feeds.

I see some in social media, but it’s mostly at the edge of public venues I visit. Wading into political and social news is an option.

So is seeking melancholic communities of earnest folks who apparently yearn for something they don’t have. That really doesn’t make sense. Some folks feel otherwise.

What’s yearned for varies, judging from what I hear echoing into my haunts. I don’t know what others think or feel, but opinions and expressed interests give hints.

The ‘Good Old Days’ Weren’t

Some apparently yearn for the ‘good old days’ as they imagine them. That’s generally before somewhere around 1950.

I can sympathize with them, a little.

Particularly the younger ones, who probably got their information from old coots. Folks like me, in other words, but with selective memories.

That era actually was ‘happy days,’ at least for folks who look a bit like me.

Carefully edited memories might focus on Harry Bellafonte’s “Calypso,” and universal harmony among Americans.

That last might require deciding that all decent Americans supported the Truman Doctrine. Or bitterly opposed it, depending on which seems more harmonious.1 That’s not how it was, and that’s another topic.

Still Not Perfect

I remember those ‘good old days,’ and they weren’t.

The ‘science and technology will solve all our problems’ lasted into my youth. I like tech, and enjoy reading ‘science’ news.

When it’s written by someone who knows a little about science, anyway.

Unbridled optimism made no more sense than today’s ‘we’re all gonna die’ lament, and that’s yet again another topic.2

Today’s America isn’t perfect, either.

But in many ways it’s an improvement on the days when ‘she’s smart as a man’ was supposed to be a compliment.

I really don’t miss those ‘good old days,’ and am glad they aren’t coming back.

Remembering that attitude helps me sympathize with folks who don’t yearn for America’s halcyon days around 1950.

Harry Bellafonte’s “Calypso,” and all decent Americans supported the Truman Doctrine. Or bitterly opposed it, depending on which memories get kept.

Some less anachronous Americans may wish that we were back in other ‘good old days.’

Theirs may run from around 1967 to 1991. Or maybe 1972 to 1982.

I’d be urging a return to the dear old days of yesteryear, if I thought we’d ever had a Golden Age. That hasn’t happened. Anywhere.


Some societies supported the common good better than others. A few had laws and customs worth adapting to current needs.

I think folks somewhere, a few millennia from now, will look at what America did.

They may even name some of their new institutions after ours. That’s why we call part of our Congress the Senate.

But what they’re cobbling together won’t be ‘America 2.0.’ I think, and hope, that they’ll have learned from our mistakes: and successes.

That’s why I decided to talk about where we’ve been, not kvetching about stuff I don’t really dislike.

I don’t think we’ll ever make an ideal society, perfectly balancing individual freedoms and common needs.

But I’m convinced we can do better than anything we’ve done to date.

Trying to go back won’t work. Even if we could, there isn’t a perfect era behind us. The only direction is forward.

It will take work, and working together.

Keeping what is good and changing what isn’t in ourselves and in how we deal with others is never easy. If it was, we’d probably make fewer regrettable decisions.

It will take generations, centuries, and we’ll never really finish the job. But I think build a better world for folks who haven’t been born yet is possible.

I think we can make Pope St. John Paul II’s “civilization of love” become more than only a hope. I am certain that we must try.

“…The answer to the fear which darkens human existence at the end of the twentieth century is the common effort to build the civilization of love, founded on the universal values of peace, solidarity, justice, and liberty….”
(“To the United Nations Organization, Pope St. John Paul II (October 5, 1995))

Serious posts, and one that’s not very:

1 America, 1947-1956:

2 Science, technology, and being human:

About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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