Guest Author: Dan Walsh
On April 1st, my next novel releases, called What Follows After. It’s set in October, 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis (which serves as the backdrop for the story). To research the book, I read and watched everything I could about life in the US during the late 50s and early 60s. I was alive then but only 5 years old. I found being reminded about the way things were “back then” to be wonderfully refreshing.
This is the period in American history just before the JFK assassination which, I believe, was a pivotal point for this country. In some ways, the time between WW2 and that horrible day in Dallas in 1963 was a golden era for the US. For the most part, life was much simpler and safer, families stayed together and the air was filled with the hope of a bright future.
Most of my research reinforced what I remember as a child. I was talking with my wife recently, after watching yet another bizarre event on the news, and said I think if you took someone from back then and brought them forward in time to today, gave them the grand tour, they’d never believe things could ever get this bad.
Things really have changed.
In the last fifty years, the US has changed drastically and dramatically in several fundamental ways. Other than the host of wonderful new gadgets and gizmos technology has given us, and some of the amazing medical breakthroughs we’ve seen, I’d say most of the changes have made things worse. I’ve talked with many other people my same age, or older, who feel the same way.
I don’t think this observation is merely a case of subjective opinions (read – old people complaining). I think many surveys and national statistics on topics such as violent crime, divorce, child abuse, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, support the contention that the social fabric of life in the US is deteriorating not improving.
Having said that, my researched forced me to consider another observation about life ‘back then’. It wasn’t such a golden era if you were part of a minority or a woman. The civil rights movement that exploded in the 60s did so precisely because blacks were treated so poorly and unfairly, and had been for so long. Women also were treated badly: sexually harassed at work, unable to get many jobs they were capable and qualified to do, often paid much less than men doing the same things. And housewives were often treated as second-class citizens, not just by society but by their own husbands.
The changes that have come in these areas were critical and necessary. I don’t think any reasonable person would want to return to the good old days, if it meant a return to these social abuses. But it has made me wonder…can we really call a solution a solution if the path to it spawns a host of new problems we didn’t expect? Some which are just as bad, or arguably even worse than the problems we set out to solve?
What do you think, was life in America really better back then? What could we have done differently in the way we tried to fix the broken things, or do differently now to repair the unintended consequences?
Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of 10 novels published by Revell and Guideposts, including The Unfinished Gift, The Discovery and The Dance. Reviewers often compare Dan’s books to Nicholas Sparks. He’s won 3 ACFW Carol Awards, 2 Selah Awards and three times his books have been finalists for RT’s Inspirational Book of the Year. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Word Weavers International, Dan served as a pastor for 25 years and now writes fulltime in the Daytona Beach area. He and his wife Cindi have been married 37 years and have 2 grown children and 2 grandchildren. You can find out more about his books or follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest from his website at http://danwalshbooks.com.