Thoughts about “living in the shadow” and its effects

Here’s a thought I had:

There are, oftentimes, big events in history events that make an incredible impact.  Some are incredibly large and have great influence.  Sometimes, they are so big that it dictates the era that follows it.  I call this “living in the shadow”.


If the effects are positive then it can be called a “glory time”.

Some of the effects caused by the “glory time” include:

  • An attempt at keeping the glory going.  People try to maintain the qualities of the “glory time”, even when it is no longer relevant.
  • People stand on shoulders of the former glory, often creating an unjustified arrogance.  People act as if they were the creators of the “glory time” and are responsible for it.
  • A want-to-be attitude, trying to replicate the glory.  People want to try to repeat the acts of the “glory time”.  Sometimes, they act as if they are the causes of it.
  • Everybody is trying to “cash in” on it.  People want to gain from the benefits from the “glory time” and to have what it created.  In many cases, people want to have it without working for it.
  • A lack of development as everything is compared to it.  No matter what you do you are compared to it.  As a result, it stunts any development.
  • A stagnation as nothing can compete with it.  People often realize that they just can’t “match” what the “glory time” created.  As a result, there is a tendency to stagnation and an absence of drive.
  • An apathy.  The many conditions above create a general quality of apathy in the society.  This can cause a depression in some people.

It seems that a “glory time” often tends to impair the era that follows.  In many ways, the period after a “glory time” can be called a “period of remembrance” which can turn into a “period of reenactment”.  

Personally, I feel that we are in this situation now.  Basically, we all live under the shadow of the “glory” of the post WWII world, in particular.  How can we compete with that?


But not all big events are a “glory time”.  Sometimes, they are tragic.  This is the “dark time”.

Some of the effects the “dark time” creates include:

  • A tendency to interpret everything in the context of the “dark time”.  This tends to cause a tendency to see things in a dark light.  In some cases, it can give the illusion that the problems of the “dark time” are still active when they are not.
  • A persistence of the fears to the point of paranoia.  Many fears caused by the “dark time” continue on in the era that follows.  In some cases, its like a “hanging fear” that hangs in the society.
  • A lack of ambition and resolve.  The downcast quality of the “dark time” tends to create a condition where people aren’t all that inspired to do things.  This can cause something like a stagnation.
  • An inability to resolve conflicts.  Sometimes, the event is so large that the problems its caused is not able to be resolved.  This often makes it continually “remembered” in the society which causes a persistence of the “dark time” in the society..
  • A dark view of the world.  It tends to create a dark viewpoint of the world.

Generally, a “dark time” is like a shock or trauma to the society.  As a result, there often needs to be a process of recovery.  This can actually go through stages and take generations to complete.  I feel that, in some cases, a society may never fully recover and the shock or trauma lasts for hundreds of years.


Its not uncommon that a “glory time” has a “dark time” as well, particularly if the event is large in ways such as that it involved a lot of people, lasted a long time, involved a lot of change, etc.  

In the post WWII world, not only do we live under a “glory time” but also under the problems its caused, its “dark time”.  This would include things like:

  • The horror of war
  • The knowledge of world annihilation
  • The awareness of hate
  • The problems of machines, consumerism, and such
  • The problems of mass growth

These have created a great darkness to offset the “glory” that followed WWII.

Often, having both conditions divides the society in two:  one side accepting the “glory time” point of view and one side accepting the “dark time” point of view.  This can sometimes set the stage for future conflicts.


Both the “glory time” and “dark time” cast a shadow over the society that we all end up living under.  As a result, “living under the shadow” tends to make “glory time” and “dark time” become a part of a countries history and identity. In this way, it as if entraps the society, making many societies unable to escape their past.  Basically, the effects of the “glory time” or “dark time” continues on into the era that follow it so that they, in their own way, struggle with it as well.  In some sense, societies struggle with the conditions the former era’s created and are bound up with it.  This can have good and bad consequences.

Examples of good qualities include:

  • It can create a national pride
  • It can create a national identity
  • It can create a security

Examples of bad qualities include:

  • It can cause an inability to change and an absence of development
  • It creates a rigidity
  • It can cause despair

I often feel that the bad qualities of “living in the shadow”, in particular, cause things like:

  • Social revolutions and violence.
  • A tendency to migrations.  People wanting to move somewhere else.
  • A desire for something new.
  • A  greater attempt at changing . . . a move to progress.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of progress may be largely a result of the bad qualities.

What all this shows is that “living in the shadow” can be a great force in society.  It can have as much as impact as things like economy, religion, war, etc.  It can be a source of good and bad in the society and maintain a presence in the society that lasts generations.

Copyright by Mike Michelsen

This entry was posted in Current affairs and events, Historical stuff, Modern life and society, The effects of WWII, the Nazi's, the Holocaust, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War era protests, The U.S. and American society and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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