Nostalgia is a Lie. The Best is Still Ahead.

It is easy to look back on life and remember only the greatest things. It is your brains way of keeping you from going crazy. I have always written in a journal. It started as a way to keep track of my workouts when I was an athlete. What worked and what didn’t. I was talking on the phone with one of my former teammates the other day. We were catching up and laughing about events in our past. There was one event that we were trying to recall but we both remembered it differently. Having moved recently I knew that I still had a journal or two from that time- more than 30 years ago. I went up into the attic to find it, sat down on the floor and started to page through it. I found the event we were talking about. It was a practical joke we played on our coach. Both of us were mostly right but there were somethings that I would have sworn were true that we were both WAY off.

As I went down the rabbit hole of reading some of the old entries I realized how many painful incidents I have packed away and moved on from. From perceived injustices in practice to being bullied by an older teammate. There were so many things going on in life at that time that were NOT good. Why would I ever want to go back to that time? I remember all the great things going on. Not the terrible things.

HIV/AIDS- I don’t think there’s anything that I can say about this terrible disease that hasn’t been said better by others already, but suffice it to say, AIDS sucks, and it was almost always a death sentence in the ’80s. Casual racism and other completely insensitive things were common place in the 80s. Do we really need to do that again?

The more things change the more they stay the same. In the 1980’s we were worried about THE COLD WAR. Of course it might’ve been harder for Americans to care about others back then because there was still a chance we might be instantly evaporated by a rolling wall of fire when a Russian ICBM landed in our backyard. The Cold War kinda looks quaint now, but paranoia over a nuclear war with our global enemies was still running high in the ’80s. To quote an old hardcore punk song: “If AIDS don’t get ya, then the warheads will.” Those underlying fears seemed likely to come true back then.

Gone are the days (mostly) of gas guzzling cars and archaic technology. There was a FREAKING HOLE IN THE OZONE! But through government regulations things have gotten better. You hear people complain about the price of gas today yet In the year 1980, the average retail price of gas was $1.19. This is equivalent to $4.60 in 2023 dollars! The AVERAGE MPG of a NEW car in the 1980s was less than 17 MPG. Do you really want to go back to that time now?

Nostalgia Is a Liar, So Keep Moving Forward

They call it nostalgia and not the past because nostalgia is a rose-tinted lens that distorts the past, a lens through which we bend and contort memories to fit our whims and desires, to have them slot neatly into narratives and weave seamlessly into wider stories we tell ourselves, stories about when we were younger, stronger, better, happier.

Nostalgia, in short, is a liar.

We all indulge in nostalgia. It’s an affliction, a condition, it’s the way we’re wired. Stories are how humanity passed on instruction and moral code for millennia. The past can’t just be the past, it has to have meaning, we have to contextualize it and use our present to justify what went before, we have to romanticize how got here through nostalgia’s dirty lens.

This would all be fine, but the truth is nostalgia makes us unhappy.

Czech author Milan Kundera noted:

“The Greek word for ‘return’ is nostos. Algos means ‘suffering.’ So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.”

Nostalgia is toxic. It removes us from the present, it takes us out of gratitude and mindfulness and plunges us into the movie playing in our head. It has us comparing our reality-based present to a fabricated, fantasy past.

An Antidote

I say all this because so many of us wallow in yesteryear glory. How many of your friends talk incessantly about “the good old days” of 20 years ago, when they weren’t even so good? The MAGA crowd that believes that YESTERDAY was the best they will ever be.

Nostalgia is disempowering. The only natural conclusion when in its thrall is to believe your best days are behind you and you’re powerless to change that.

Fuck that.

Right now, in the present, is the youngest you’re ever going to be, so stop wallowing about past conquests and set sail once more.

The antidote to nostalgia is action.

Our present and future can be anything we want it to be. The past has gone, and it doesn’t need to have a bearing on where we go next.

Good times are coming and you could realize this much more readily if nostalgia didn’t sit on your shoulder, whisper into your ear and feeding you lies.

So don’t believe it. You have that choice. Hear the whispers and realize they’re deception.

This doesn’t mean disregard your fond memories or abandon the lessons your past has taught you, it just means focus on the present without holding onto a false narrative about who you were.

After all, it is only the present we live in. The present is your life; one long expanding present that rolls out in front of us all, a crest of a wave we are riding together.

Don’t look back, keep moving forward because, in case you hadn’t realized, nostalgia is a liar.

“Nostalgia is a dirty liar that insists things were better than they seemed.”

AMERICA is a country with great possibilities. We are relatively young and our democratic experiment will still grow and evolve. Look forward to what we can be.

Who and What Influenced the US Constitution

The US Constitution is possibly one of the best documents ever written. The Constitution of the United States established America’s national government and fundamental laws, and guaranteed certain basic rights for its citizens. It influenced many other governments constitutions in the past 200+ years.

It was signed on September 17, 1787, by delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Under America’s first governing document, the Articles of Confederation, the national government was weak and states operated like independent countries. At the 1787 convention, delegates devised a plan for a stronger federal government with three branches—executive, legislative and judicial—along with a system of checks and balances to ensure no single branch would have too much power.  

I am not an absolutist or originalist.   I believe the Constitution was written deliberately vague because when it was written they realized that the future was unpredictable. At a time where slavery was legal and a sign of status who could have seen a women of color as vice president of this new country?  I just returned from a business trip to Italy. 8 hours direct Rome to Boston. A trip that would have taken more than a month in the 1780s.  Who could have predicted the medical advancements we made even in the last century? The life expectancy  of 55 years (excluding child mortality) was largely unchanged between the 12th and 19th centuries.

Constitutions should consist only of general provisions; the reason is that they must necessarily be permanent, and that they cannot calculate for the possible change of things.

Alexander Hamilton

Change is inevitable. The constitution needs to remain a living document.  

The Constitution gave us a set of rules to follow in this American Experiment with democracy. The United States is among the oldest modern democracies, but it is only the oldest if the criteria are refined to disqualify claimants ranging from Switzerland to San Marino. Where did the founding fathers get the ideas for our democracy? 

When the delegates to the Constitutional Convention met in 1787 to debate what form of government the United States should have, there were no contemporary democracies in Europe from which they could draw inspiration. The most democratic forms of government that any of the convention members had personally encountered were those of Native American nations. Of particular interest was the Iroquois Confederacy, which historians have argued wielded a significant influence on the U.S. Constitution.

What evidence exists that the delegates studied Native governments? Descriptions of them appear in the three-volume handbook John Adams wrote for the convention surveying different types of governments and ideas about government. It included European philosophers like John Locke and Montesquieu, whom U.S. history textbooks have long identified as constitutional influences; but it also included the Iroquois Confederacy and other Indigenous governments, which many of the delegates knew through personal experience.

The Iroquois Confederacy was in no way an exact model for the U.S. Constitution. However, it provided something that Locke and Montesquieu couldn’t: a real-life example of some of the political concepts the framers were interested in adopting in the U.S.

The Iroquois Confederacy dates back several centuries, to when the Great Peacemaker founded it by uniting five nations: the Mohawks, the Onondaga, the Cayuga, the Oneida and the Seneca. In around 1722, the Tuscarora nation joined the Iroquois, also known as the Haudenosaunee. Together, these six nations formed a multi-state government while maintaining their own individual governance.

In 1744, the Onondaga leader Canassatego gave a speech urging the contentious 13 colonies to unite, as the Iroquois had at the signing of the Treaty of Lancaster. This cultural exchange inspired the English colonist Benjamin Franklin to print Canassatego’s speech.

“We heartily recommend Union and a good Agreement between you our Brethren,” Canassatego had said. “Never disagree, but preserve a strict Friendship for one another, and thereby you, as well as we, will become the stronger. Our wise Forefathers established Union and Amity between the Five Nations; this has made us formidable; this has given us great Weight and Authority with our neighboring Nations. We are a powerful Confederacy; and, by your observing the same Methods our wise Forefathers have taken, you will acquire fresh Strength and Power; therefore whatever befalls you, never fall out one with another.”

He used a metaphor that many arrows cannot be broken as easily as one. This inspired the bundle of 13 arrows held by an eagle in the Great Seal of the United States.

Franklin referenced the Iroquois model as he presented his Plan of Union8 at the Albany Congress in 1754, attended by representatives of the Iroquois and the seven colonies. He invited the Great Council members of the Iroquois to address the Continental Congress in 1776.

Iroquois Confederacy and
the Great Law of Peace
United States Constitution
Restricts members from holding more than one office in the Confederacy.Article I, Section 6, Clause 2, also known as the Ineligibility Clause or the Emoluments Clause bars members of serving members of Congress from holding offices established by the federal government, while also baring members of the executive branch or judicial branch from serving in the U.S. House or Senate.

Outlines processes to remove leaders within the Confederacy

Article II, Section 4 reads “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and the conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Designates two branches of legislature with procedures for passing laws

Article I, Section 1, or the Vesting Clauses, read “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” It goes on to outline their legislative powers.

Delineates who has the power to declare war

Article I, Section 8, Clause 11, also known as the War Powers Clause, gives Congress the power, “To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;”

Creates a balance of power between the Iroquois Confederacy and individual tribes

The differing duties assigned to the three branches of the U.S. Government: Legislative (Congress), Executive (President), and Judicial (Supreme Court) act to balance and separate power in government.