Eclessiastes 7:10 “Don’t long for “the good old days,” for you don’t know whether they were any better than today.”
This is an amazing passage because it reveals an insight that science is only beginning to understand- how fallible our memories are. Some years ago a study was done in which a group of people were shown a car accident. They were then split into two groups, one group was asked if there was broken glass where the two cars crashed and the other group was asked if there was broken glass where the two cars hit. Only one word was substituted in the question but those that were asked using the word “crash” had a significantly higher percentage of remembering glass, even though there was none. One word can literally change the way we remember things.
There has been a concept floating around known as “flashbulb memory.” It is the idea that in high emotional/volatile events the memory is “burned” into our brains. So when 9/11 occurred a large group of psychologists went out and interviewed a host of people about what was going on for them when 9/11 occurred. Several months later they re-interviewed these people to test for the accuracy of their recollections. They found that their recollections were highly unreliable but their belief in the accuracy of their memories was much higher than other memories. The point is that our memories cannot be trusted. In the last episode of the TV series Office Space, one of the characters states, "I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you actually left them." I think this is as the heart of Solomon’s wisdom. We need to be on guard against glorifying the past so much that we miss the present. So often we can’t wait to move on to another stage of our lives only to look back on it with changed eyes. Sometimes we alter the past in our minds to a glorified state that it wasn’t and other times we miss in the present those moments that will soon become the “longed for ones.” The lesson is to be on guard in the present, fight to find the “good old days” you are living in now!