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  • Writer's pictureParmita Dubey

Can We Move Past the Past, Please?

"Back in those days, things were so much better." How many times have you been subjected to this type of rumination? Ample, I guess. People love to believe that life was great in a historic time frame. Most likely, a period when they weren't even born!

This is an actual phenomenon called the Fading Affect Bias (FAB) where we tend to view past events in a more positive light as time passes regardless of what the reality might've been. Most of us tend to see the past with rose-tinted glasses. Over time, our memory of any situation warps. Often, the good parts remain and the negative ones fade. It's not your fault. It's just how our brain is wired.

As a result of our tendency to look fondly upon the "good old days", we believe that the days gone were better than the things right now. Although, this kind of perspective helps us retain a positive outlook towards life, however, it also leads to bias. We end up ignoring the truth and accept a flowery notion of human history.

When I hear things like, "we were better off living in a joint family setup", I'm forced to imagine how stifling life must be. To never have privacy, to be bound by the rules (often restrictive) of the head of the family, to have no say in the decision-making especially if you're a woman, to live a life of sacrifices and compromises, and so much more. Yes, you would have someone else cook for you if you were sick, but not without a certain level of scorn. You were reliant on relatives who may or may not be willing to help you in a real sense. There are numerous examples where the dependent relatives took advantage of the earning member of the family or vice versa.

I for one would never want to live in the past where women had no rights and were bound by the duties of a caregiver. Where she was born to be married off even before she hit puberty only to die during childbirth, or have to bear several children at a young age and see them pass away before they learn to even talk. Or be bound by the rules of the patriarchy where the women are supposed to cook, clean, rear, birth, and live on the whims of the elderly or the men of the house. It's a terrible life that scares me even to imagine.

Long story short, we need to stop glorifying the past. There's a reason we left behind many things in the past and moved to make the world what it is today. Indeed, not everything is peachy. We as a society need to constantly evolve and there still are numerous shortcomings to overcome. However, dwelling in the past won't benefit us. It's better to focus on what we have and how we can make the most of the life we've been blessed with.

Each time period comes with its own benefits and disadvantages. We must embrace our present, learn from our mistakes, and try to make the world a better place one mindset change at a time.

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