Opinion: Has time changed the world or just our views?



James S. Sherman

James S. Sherman

James Sherman is junior newspaper journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Were things better back then? Have things really changed that much? I probably spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the answers to questions like these. Of course the world is always changing, but how much?

When you hear an account of someone’s past first-hand, you aren’t hearing a true representation of that time, but rather a representation of how that person felt at that time. Ask someone about the era they grew up in, be it any decade from the 50s to the 90s, and they will probably tell you it was the best time to be a kid; they had the best toys, they had the best television, etc.

Ask the same person how the world has changed, and they will tell you that things are more complicated now, the world is more dangerous or things of that nature. Could it be true; however, that the world hasn’t really changed? Sure, technology progresses at an exponential rate and minorities are slowly being granted the rights they deserve (specifically in the U.S.), but apart from those, has the world changed?

I would argue that the world has not changed much in the last 50 or so years. And by world I mean the United States first and the rest of the world second. I am not as well travelled as I would like to be, so my worldview is limited. There may be drastic changes in particular countries (Egypt springs to mind), but I will lump them in with all the other countries in the world, as many Americans do, for the sake of this column.

The world doesn’t change. People change. Their perspectives change. Did the world, particularly the political landscape, change that much between 1990 and the next 20 or so years that Dennis Miller changed his politics from a liberal leftwing view of the world to a more conservative rightwing view? No. Dennis Miller changed. He changed from just a regular, albeit funny man, into a rich, less funny man over those years.

Of course, dramatic things have happened within this small window of time. Wars have been fought, political leaders have prospered and others have failed, but these things always happen. When it happens in our lifetime, it’s hard to put it into perspective with all the things that have happened in the past. Now, because of the progress of technology and the 24-hour news cycle, we have a kind of instant-nostalgia about news as it happens. You can physically see a split-screen of current, live breaking news and footage from half a century ago trying to put the breaking news into perspective. This doesn’t help us understand what’s going on. This makes things more confusing. The news is now telling us how we should view the story.

Ultimately, I think the world is slowly becoming a better place. When more people gain freedoms and civil rights you will ultimately have a better world. We’re getting there, I guess. Slowly, but we’re getting there.