In his essay, “The decline of rural ways” (Dec. 30), Bob Neal reminisces about life way back then.

Like the writer, I, too, am a historical romantic and miss the days when life seemed so much simpler that we could somehow understand our world. Now, we realize that our understanding was actually a kind of myopia whose narrow view didn’t see the injustices that were happening to women, minorities, children, human health, animals, the environment, and victims of war, politics and religion.

I, too, would much rather ruminate on the gentleness of the past than its darkness. It would appear, though, that the writer never heard, or has forgotten, the adult voices in our childhood who bemoaned their own past when their memories filtered a much simpler, gentler life.

It is tempting and comforting to view the past through this vision. So much so that it can blind people to what opportunities have actually opened up in the world today to create community, leaving some people to sit back and miss the countless chances, many more chances, we have to connect with humankind, animals, nature, life. Yes, it is a different kind of community, but it is there. Millions have found it.

Are we less? Some might say so. Others, more visionary, might agree that we are different, perhaps more challenged, but much more gifted in our ability to create goodness and connection.

I encourage the public to recognize the gifts of today, which actually allow us to both enjoy the past through books, movies, museums, recordings, stories, and endless media in ways we could not “way back when.”

At the same time, we can discover how much more the world today can offer to those who will see.

Lew Alessio, Greene

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