Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ordem e progresso

Once, a male friend of mine asked me if I didn't wish I could have lived fifty or 100 years ago, when life was simpler. I stared at him, as if he was crazy. "If by simpler you mean not be able to own my own property, decide who I marry, control the number of children I have, or possibly even vote.. I have absolutely no desire to live in the past", I responded.

"Huh, I hadn't thought of that" he said.

I'm reminded of this exchange after reading this article in the Daily Mail (it's in a section titled "Femail", I'm not even going to dignify that with further comment). And I have to ask, what's up with people and their "simpler time" fetish? I mean, whatever tickles your pickle, how your live your life is of no concern to me as long as you aren't hurting anybody. But if you actually think that the 1930-50s were a better time to live in (particularly if you are of the female, non-white, non-Christian persuasion), then I think there's a word for that.. what is it.. hmm..oh yeah! Delusional.

One thing that struck me while I was reading the article is how fear seems to have played a role in all of the women's decisions to live in the past. I understand fear, I'm a very fearful person. Pretty much everything scares me, from strangers to school to an occasionally crippling feeling of inadequacy. So I feel for the women, who fear the world they were born into. But never once have I thought that returning to a less enlightened past is the correct way to deal with my fears.

I live in a flawed time. Children still starve, hundreds of crimes of every nature are committed daily in the city I inhabit, the homeless still freeze underneath highway overpasses. But these occurrences are not a modern invention, people have always been calloused towards others, greedy, and violent. And I believe that in addition to being flawed, this is also the best time yet. Never have so many people had so much freedom. Freedom from famine, freedom from disease, freedom from oppression. It's not a bad time to exist.

Denying this and running away to a make-believe past is one way to deal with this flawed time. I prefer to stand up to my fears and face forward.


Will Baird said...

OMG. marry me!!!

Oh wait, polygamy went out of fashion even before 100 years ago. Blast.

A bit more seriously, thank you for saying something along these lines. People who idealize the past are leaving out a whole lot of, well, everything. Life has vastly improved over the past. I just wish people would see that.

Ann Thrope said...

Oh if only I had a dollar for every time I heard "marry me". I'd have enough for, well.. a cup of coffee anyway.