Ian Howard | Chronicle Alumni Class of 2012
Ian Howard’s response to staff writer Ashley Calvani’s The Nostalgia Effect:
What voters fail to realize is that it’s not about yesteryear. Yesterday was no better than today. In fact I would argue that today is far better than yesterday, and the future, while seemingly bleak, will see even greater expansions in rights for all. I honestly find it sad, Ashley, that you would point to the existence of Martin Luther King Jr. as a reason that the past was better than today. Martin Luther King Jr. could become a hero because he had something truly horrible to fight against. Martin Luther King Jr. lived his life for the future of civil rights and he succeeded. Today is better than yesterday because of him. How can you possibly cite the 1950s as better than today? Women could not make near half as much as men, and men and women of color could still not effectively vote. There are astronomically fewer murders per capita and rapes have certainly followed suit. The specter of overpopulation will be silenced, at least in America, when in 2050 demographers speculate the population will begin to decline on its own without the help of any Chinese boys-only policies.
Nostalgia can be a fickle thing because while the past will always seem better than today and today will always seem better than tomorrow America already has 250 years behind it of moving forward in the right direction, and I am confident that it can continue this pattern. The War on Terror seems really bad compared to World War II, but what about the Vietnam War? People spat in the faces of returning war veterans and soldiers fired upon non-violent student protestors at Kent State.
With the ever widening gap of political parties and the overbearing magnifying glass with which the collective media sets sensible and standard speculation on fire it can be pretty easy at times to feel as though America is very near the 2012 predicted by Mayan calendars. The polls have oscillated back in forth to each candidate leaving many decided voters on either side feeling as though they are staring (at least momentarily) into the abyss. And unfortunately I am one of them. If Romney were to win I have a lot of trouble seeing how it would not be a foreign policy apocalypse. Up to now, Mitt has managed to slap British hospitality in the face for absolutely no reason (click here), claim that Palestinian culture is inferior to Jewish culture (blatant racism), and declare Russia America’s number one geopolitical foe. However, at the same token there are plenty of voters that see a second term of Obama as financial implosion (a position that I do not agree with but a sentiment that I can most definitely empathize with). However, these seemingly insurmountable problems may not be so impossible.
According to scientist, journalist, and author, Matt Ridley, the human race is far better off than it was 50 years ago. Check out this link. In his book, The Rational Optimist, Ridley argues that poverty has nosedived, oil is not being spent as fast as is thought, and above all that optimism is correct in any period of modern human development. The doomsayers may grab the headlines but in the end the world moves on. In the 1800s, Thomas Malthus, an economist predicted that famine would plague England because the population was expanding at a greater rate than farms could support and he was wrong. The greater demand spurred an Agricultural Revolution, which resulted in the seven billion people we have today. I agree that America should not sit passively and wait for its budget to be balanced or Medicare to be fixed. People need to stand up and continue to make America great, but at the same time, why are we still searching for a golden age?
Things are better for the American people and the people of the world than they have ever been. And they’re only getting better.