A hundred years ago

A hundred years ago, the majority of people’s main preoccupation in life wasn’t to go to the beach, to have a drink with friends at a bar, or dinning in a restaurant, manicure, movies, gym, partying etc… people’s main preoccupation wasn’t entertainment or distraction. What life meant to them, was something else. Build a family, shelter, have food, and build security against hardship. And still the case for most today, but what we fill our lives with, has taken a different collective aspiration, and maybe distracting from what is essential.

Not that some didn’t enjoy times of distraction back then, or seek them, but it wasn’t a priority of life. Sure the roaring 20’s happened in NYC after the Spanish flu and before the Great Depression. But that was mostly an expression of big cities. Because there, yes, priorities started to shift. Harder to build a life around traditional values of the time, society in big cities shift towards culture, socialisation and a sort of hedonistic pursuit after the war. Where’s the chicken, where’s the egg in an urban environment, I don’t know. But somehow a new way of life emerges. Was the Spanish flu pandemic already back then, a precursory test of nature on this new way of life?

Evidently, we have in a century, pushed that way of life to its extreme.

Seeing the picture of an oblivious crowd flocking to the beaches in Britain, packed as tight as can be in the middle of a pandemic, is saddening. For not its dramatic comparison to a herd of kamikaze, it at least says one thing. That everyone is willing to die rather than be taken away from the distractions, entertainment of life. This has become, in todays society the most essentiel meaning of life, so it seems.

For others, the followers, it may be that they rather hide from the truth, from reality because they cannot “take it”, they cannot fathom it, and revel in oblivion and delusion. That the pandemic doesn’t exist, or that somewhat they have super power, are invincible, maybe even are super heroes in the case of Americans tooting their right to freedom.

They cannot adapt, thinking or feeling that the pre-pandemic way of life, is the only thing they can perceive as normal life.

Once again, pandemic address our ability to adapt as a specie.

For sure our ways of life would not seem normal at all for anyone coming from an era prior to the 20th century. Should it matter? Should we let these people flocking to the beach know that the meaning of freedom doesn’t lie on the surface, the signifier, a symbolic picture of beachgoers, the choice made to act upon what one wants rather than need. That having perspective, and reaching real freedom may mean delaying instant gratification. That feeling free, isn’t the same as being free.

Or is that too deep, too dooming, too much for our fragile overprotected, worry free generations. Yes with an “S” as I’m counting at least 3 generations here who have had the luxury to live in a western world pretty much rid of trauma when you compare to the first half of the 20th century plagued by a pandemic, great depression and 2 world wars. For the generation living through these times, this was the normal way of life. Some of them still alive today, may also perceive – like the people of the past 20 centuries – that the 21st century, isn’t “normal” living.

Nature will always reward those who adapt the fastest. That is a constant through the evolution of humanity.