The Way We Were?

Roja_FourthofJuly

By Jeff Valdez (Huffington Post)

Greetings, from behind the “Tinseltown Curtain,” deep in the heart of Hollywould’vecould’veshould’ve. Lately, I seem to hear and read a lot about how some people wish America would return to the “way it was.” I thought long and hard about this and decided next time I hear that, I’m going to ask the person to be more specific. Do they mean return America to “the way it was” prior to the various haplogroups crossing the Bering land bridge? If so, I can understand that. What an amazing place the country must have been. Imagine the unspoiled beauty and majesty. No traffic, no pollution, no Kardashians. Wow! Sign me up. But then a bunch of adventurous tribes of nomads had to go and screw it all up when they “discovered” this land, (sorry Columbus) and settled down. Imagine back then, when the original tribe saw a new tribe arrive, that didn’t look like them or come from the same cave system? I could hear it now, “Ugg, there goes the neighborhood.”

Or perhaps we should return to an America, “The way it was,” when the Spaniards settled. Ah, those were the good ol’ days, when you could enslave an entire population of indigenous people. A grand time, when there were no pesky unions or labor laws. Could someone really miss the days when you could rape, pillage, burn books and force people into your own religious beliefs? I doubt it. So I guess it’s not the Conquest that they’re referring to.

We can’t forget about America, “The way it was,” when the Pilgrims came 40 years after the Spaniards, to start Jamestown, the second American settlement (St. Augustine, Florida was the first, settled by the Spaniards in 1565) Even though the Pilgrims arrived in Jamestown in 1607, I bet by 1614, there were a few outspoken indigenous tribal chiefs grousing, “I don’t care that these “pilgrims” have been here for several years, they’re undocumented and letting them stay still amounts to amnesty. I didn’t stamp their papers, did you stamp their papers?” Talk about insensitive and isolationist. Who would want to return to an America like that?

Then there’s the 1950s America, “The way it was.” That must be it. It’s gotta’ be that particular time that people long for. Most everyone on TV was white (Some things never change). Families had dinners at diners, there were cool cars and fun happy go lucky music. That surely must be the America that people are referring to, but then again, there were also signs that hung outside the diners that said, “No Negroes, Mexicans or Dogs allowed.” Some people were dragged to their death behind some of those “neat” cars, just for looking or being “different.” As they would have said back then, “Gee wiz, that’s not cool.” Here I thought we were doing so swell on our search for the “Way we were.” If I may quote Babs, (Barbara Streisand) from a song of the same name as this article, “Memories may be beautiful and yet what’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget.” So I guess it’s not the 50s.

Wait a second. Maybe America is more like it “was,” than people realize. I remember going to a 4th of July parade last year, in a small suburb that was predominately Latino, Black and Asian; very cross cultural, near downtown Los Angeles. The scene was straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. There were American flags everywhere. A young lanky boy, slurping his ice cream cone, as it melted. Hard working able-bodied men, showing off their muscles to their girlfriends. Two teenagers sharing an awkward moment. A marching band playing traditional parade songs. A mother and father, walking proudly next to their son, decked out in his Marine Dress Blues. The dynamics of patriotism, food, hard work, and especially family, were everywhere. Sure there were more people selling burritos than hot dogs, but burritos are probably healthier for you anyway. And of course the usual, corn on a stick was for sale (slight enhancement with chili powder) as well as cotton candy, and gallons upon gallons of lemonade. As I think back, I realize that if Norman Rockwell were to come back and repaint his masterpieces, the only real adjustment he would have to make for the “Americans” at the 4th of July parade I attended, would be a little darker pigmentation in his paint. Because the Americans at the parade, were Latino, African American and Asian by culture, but none the less, damn proud Americans. And it’s okay to be both. As a matter of fact, it’s a good thing.

I have heard the expression, “If you chase happiness, you will never catch it. Happiness has never been in the past; nor in the future. It’s here right now.” So next time, you hear anyone say, “I wish things would go back to the way they were.” Tell them that they are the way they were, right now, at this very moment; you just have to open your eyes and your heart. Carly Simon said it beautifully in an song, “These are the good old days.” Then invite them to join me this 4th of July at that wonderful little parade again. The burritos are awesome.

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Categories: NGL News

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