There is a fairly well-known meme with the phrase “This is why we can’t have nice things.” which I have seen around frequently enough though I wasn’t previously familiar with its origins. It is usually posted with a picture of someone doing something really stupid or inappropriate. There is also another similar meme, “Remember what they took from you.” which is either accompanied by a photograph of happier times or more ironically accompanying something like images of cheaper petroleum or 1980s action figures. Both of these served as inspiration for this post. What follows applies across the Western world but will mainly be focused on Australia as it is my homeland.
As the title has no doubt alerted readers, I really don’t think we (including me) deserve nice things and that what was taken from us was largely deserved. I state this as someone who is old enough to remember vividly when times were much better than they are today from almost every possible measure; short of some improvements in consumer technology. Not only the times I was born into but the post-war period before my birth too. A great example can be seen when walking through a section of the Brisbane Airport terminal in Australia which has a series blown up pictures of much nicer times in Australian history.
When seeing some of these photographs of happier times, something that most will notice is just how well-dressed people are. For example, there are some archival videos the Australian Broadcasting Corporation has posted on YouTube of people in the street in the early 1960s around the time my parents were born. What you will notice apart from the amusingly politically incorrect but articulate opinions of Australians — was that everyone was well-dressed. The most poorly dressed were wearing a shirt without a tie but most had suits and were wearing hats. This used to be normal for people from every class in the nation.
This dress was something people observed everywhere when they went out except for the beach and even there — there were expectations for personal modesty. If people went out in public, travelled by rail or train and especially when going to Mass or other religious service — they dressed well. I certainly do the latter but I can’t claim I dress like my recent ancestors when I go out any more than the average person but I am still generally better dressed.
Not only dress but personal speech has changed markedly. It is now not at all uncommon to hear people uttering all variety of filthy language in public and this is not at all related to class. You hear it from high school students on public transport, adults speaking loudly on their phones, construction workers in the street. The drug-addled homeless now have to go to increasingly desperate lengths with their own vile language just to keep ahead.
In recent years I have become fascinated with checking the photographs posted on the Daily Mail of Melbourne Cup day. This is one event where people were until recently dressing up but even here, the standards are quickly falling. Even the better-dressed behave the same with vulgar and boozy behaviour seen everywhere. I should add here that the Daily Mail focuses almost exclusively on the trashiest people it can find but none of the photographs in the linked article are fake and new ones appear each year. Not only this, but I witness the same sort of behaviour in public with some frequency.
There are of course still many people who don’t behave like this but society as a whole is less and less restrained with the most basic elements of comportment and at all socio-economic levels. Although in the past, I too have been guilty of this which is why I am included in the “we”. I haven’t given much mention to alcohol but this is also another significant problem which I have discussed previously. Alcohol as well as other illicit substances which are still technically illegal though easilyy available to anyone who wants them including (I’m told), a great many politicians and public servants in our nation’s capital.
So before complaining about what used to be and what should be, I try to remember the way we are and the way we were. The past was of course not all rosy and there were certainly problems behind the more pleasing exteriors shown in photographs but most over the age of thirty who want to can remember better days. Many people would take exception to all I have written because they value the “freedom” they have today but of course those people do not know what true liberty is.
The simple reason that everything around us is turning into a dirty fast food restaurant (which also used to be cleaner) is because:
We don’t dress well. We don’t behave well. We are vulgar, decadent and degenerate and so we don’t deserve nice things.