We certainly imagine the past to be a much better place than it was. I study the colonial South, and I can tell you that it was a violent, brutal, unforgiving place to live for white, black, and Indian peoples. I wouldn't trade places with a colonist for anything. Childhood mortality rates were sky-high, existence was always tenuous, and there was always the possibility that everything you worked for might go by the wayside due to drought or some other disaster. I always cringe, then, when I hear someone glorifying the past, wishing they could live along the frontier, or claiming that "things aren't like they used to be." That statement is probably true, but to me it's a good thing.