You know how you can’t swing a dead cat in Church without smacking into someone talking about how wicked our day is?
Something about that . . . not sitting quite right with me. Can’t quite put my finger on it. Until this morning, when I read this article by Patrick Stewart (who I’d like to drool over a little but can’t, what with my recent diatribe re: the Twimoms and Jacob, but, hey, at least he’s old enough to be my father instead of my son. Wait, is that worse? But I digress.). Money quote:
Worse, there were those who condoned the abuse. I heard police or ambulancemen, standing in our house, say, “She must have provoked him,” or, “Mrs Stewart, it takes two to make a fight.”
Lightbulb: that’s why those “we live in a wicked age” statements bother me. I do not dispute that our age is a wicked, depraved one by certain measures. But by other measures, it is almost unimaginably better than the Good Olde Days. Better if you are an abused woman. Better, for that matter, if you are any woman. Better if you have a disability or a mental illness. Better if you are a member of a racial minority group. Better if you aren’t a fan of smallpox or typhus; better if you are partial to clean water or mass literacy.
I understand that those “wicked like unto Sodom” statements are a convenient Mormon shorthand for talking about a world where little girls have the word “juicy” splashed across their bottoms and only slightly older boys click through to things that I can’t even imagine. But I’m concerned that the shorthand unintentionally creates room for a perverse kind of nostalgia that remembers only the stable, happy families from days of yore and forgets what a whole host of “isms” inflicted on the families of everyone else.
This reminds me of Helaman 7:7-8:
Oh, that I could have had my days in the days when my father Nephi first came out of the land of Jerusalem, that I could have joyed with him in the promised land; then were his people easy to be entreated, firm to keep the commandments of God, and slow to be led to do iniquity; and they were quick to hearken unto the words of the Lord—Yea, if my days could have been in those days, then would my soul have had joy in the righteousness of my brethren.
This passage is an almost laughably inaccurate description of Nephi’s day. So apparently selective historical memory is not new. I am grateful that so many other things are.