“Things were better before, man”…
I can see where you’re coming from dear friend. Indeed, the past decade or so has been everything but a walk in the park. Economic crisis, terrorism, natural disasters, outbreaks, you name it. Nostalgia aside, I guess however that you should measure the “better” part of your statement by the amount of time by which you define the “before” part of it.
Do you mean 5 years or so ago? Right in the middle of the Islamic State terrorist attacks in Europe.
10 years ago? You’re in the aftermath of the greatest economic crisis since the great depression and at the start of the Syrian conflict.
15 or 20 years ago? That’s 9/11 and the subsequent war on terrorism, Bush, Saddam, the Iraq conflict, the SARS outbreak, hurricane Katherina, the Y2K bug (or lack thereof).
More? 40, 50 years ago? The Cold War, the Berlin wall, apartheid. 80 years bring you back to a world conflict, a genocide and the first and last use of nuclear weapons in an armed conflict, 90 years, to the greatest economic depression in modern history, 100 years, to yet another world conflict and another genocide.
And before that? The Napoleonic wars, the Plague, the great fire of London, the fall of the Roman Empire, the fire of Rome, Nero, Attila the Hun, and many other wonderful humanist concepts like slavery or torture, which were the norm for a very long time. Just an excerpt of a very long list. Many things were not better before. Most actually. Human rights, gender equality, air conditioning and ice cream would only be coming later.
If you are still not convinced, picture this last argument: it took medicine thousands of years of trial and error, starting from basic herbal medicine in the bronze age to the discovery of penicillin by Sir Alexander Flemming in 1928 to start having effective and widespread antibiotics. Most people reading this post were born shortly after penicillin had become a staple of modern medicine and most will be gone by the time bacteria will have developed enough resistance to render most antibiotics ineffective. It is as if the entire universe aligned itself in order to make antibiotics available right in time for your birth dear friend and will retire them by the time you’re gone. A personal gift to you and you only, of all the people who walked the face of this earth since the dawn of time, emperors and prophets included. So no, things were not better before and the 20 years of extra life expectancy that this gift gave us is a testament to the brighter present we live in.
My point is, past is gone, future is still to be written, so there’s probably no better time for us than today, which is why I would like to wish you a nice today, a nicer tomorrow, and so on for the next year.
Let the board sound
And best wishes for the year to come
2 thoughts on “Was it really better before?”
And I can read this post on a supercomputing slab of glass that even the most imaginative sci-fi writers in years past could not imagine would ever exist… The sum of human knowledge at the tip of my fingers, anyone on the planet reachable at anytime from anywhere in high def audio and video…
How did people stay in touch with their loved ones abroad 30 years ago? Snail mail and crossed fingers basically… Today? There are several apps for every letter of the alphabet to achieve this, with spacial audio and 4K rez… Options galore.
I sometimes try to count the number of very minor health related issues children face nowadays, that would certainly have been fatal to them had they been born in the early 1900s: too many to list. And yet we think nothing of them today. Being cured is routine now. Heart surgery can be done non invasively, in a few hours and you’re home the same afternoon.
Here’s another one: if you’re cold what do you do? You turn the thermostat up. For many people, AI does it automagically even before they realise they’re cold. What would you have done back in the early 1900s? Nothing, just be cold, or add another fur layer if you were lucky to have one…
Today’s mundane and boring is yesterday’s greatest achievements and improvements, and the far past’s impossible dreams… Let’s be thankful for the good things we have today 🙂
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