Sorry for Austen aficionados but this isn’t about a bodice busting romance during a great plague. Just goes to show that nothing is more dangerous than 10 year old arranging the bride’s prized family crystal set unless it is an old codger turned loose with a keyboard. Each generation comes along and has its own unique prejudices and sense of pride in what they think they are. What they think they are will be viewed quite differently by the following generations who will downplay their accomplishments and gleefully note every shortcoming perceived or real. Also each generation can’t resist the temptation to assess their group as the most significant, noteworthy, informed, brightest and morally upright there has ever been. A few take a darker approach and believe their generation will be the last in line due to moral decay. See Sartre and many of the “Lost Generation” writers of that ilk and going back to Machievelli and Voltaire.
But the overriding theme of each generation is that their “times” are really, really important and mark a great departure in the advancement or decline of Mankind. Everything they experience is BIG. Notice our headlines of today? New normal. Never be the same. Never seen anything like this before. Unprecedented. Will be fundamental changes. Remember Hugo summarized it pretty well–the best of times and the worst of times. Thus is has ever been and will forever be. We reside in neither a utopia but we also are not standing on the edge of the river Styx awaiting the Grim Reaper. This is not the most important time in the history of Mankind contrary to today’s headlines. Each generation seems compelled to believe that those who came before were not as bright and socially aware as they are. They actually think because they can plug into google or wikipedia that they are smarter than Isaac Newton or Eratosthenes and assuredly more morally upright because neither of them was into social justice. Our toys and tools have changed dramatically over the eons but the heart and mind of Man is the same as described in the book of Job or by Livy or Dante. You, me and our era are not the be all and end all. We are merely a way station on the journey of Mankind. There are only a handful of events that truly have eventful impacts for generations. The Napoleonic Wars and the Congress of Vienna did indeed determine the history of the civilized world until WWI–a century. Then after WWI and the peace treaty along with Wilson’s grandiose mental cobwebs set the course of history that we still mostly endure. The Middle East difficulties of today have their origin in that process. As important as those events were they did not fundamentally change who we are or how we go about our daily living.
When CNN or yahoo news proclaims momentous headlines and predicts everything will be different this time please use some discretion. Nothing serious is every written in the popular press or media. They after all are seeking clicks, likes, and headlines quoted by others. Read real history or current essays. Are the editors and producers of our modern media really the smartest people in the room? God help us if they are. We have truly sunk to a low estate. Just use that magnificent brain God gave you. Don’t be mentally lazy. Usually behind every great advancement there has been a huge dose of skepticism and curiosity.
The Roman Empire was a big deal. We still read about it after 2000 years. I don’t know exactly how the Covid-19 virus will play out except I am extremely confident students will not be studying it 1000 years from now.
Oops, those guys in the white suits are coming after me again. Better sign off for now.
God Bless, olcranky