Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Times of Our Lives

One of my recurring themes is railing against our society's questionable nostalgia for supposedly "better" times in the past, before our morals were corrupted by violence on TV, before the economy was set up to keep the working class struggling in poverty, when families mattered and people were decent to one another. "Kids today..., blah, blah, blah". Personally, I think we're living in a pretty great time right now, and we don't realize how tough our ancestors had it, despite the romantic appeal of a simpler time. With this in mind, I was particularly struck by this passage by Annie Dillard, who manages to communicate a side of this idea with a great deal more eloquence and beauty than I ever could:

There were no formerly heroic times, and there was no formerly pure generation. There is no one here but us chickens, and so it has always been: A people busy and powerful, knowledgeable, ambivalent, important, fearful, and self-aware; a people who scheme, promote, deceive, and conquer; who pray for their loved ones, and long to flee misery and skip death. It is a weakening and discoloring idea, that rustic people knew God personally once upon a time - or even knew selflessness or courage or literature - but that it is far too late for us. In fact, the absolute is available to everyone in every age. There was never a more holy age than ours, and never a less.

- from "For the Time Being"

Be happy and thankful and optimistic; it's another regular day, and that's a pretty special thing.


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