Thursday, November 06, 2008

Do You Ever . . .

Do you ever sense that you may have been born in the wrong century?

There are times when I see virtues discounted that I'd regard as paramount and ones elevated that I think are cheap and superficial. I've talked with people who never have that feeling and yet my suspicion is there are many others who wonder if they are operating with a rule book from another time.

This sense may be intensified with age. [Yeats wrote "Why should not old men be mad?"] Some of us, however, were born old and have always felt a certain disconnect with their generation. This goes, however, beyond generational differences.

It is a difference with the times.

1 comment:

pawnking said...

I have been considering this issue for a while now. I've been reading more and more the classics and histories, and I've come up with an interesting question: What generation, or age, or culture, would perform the best if dropped into modern America?

With all of the quickening pace of change, it is obvious that we cannot teach our children simply technical skills, for they will likely be outdated before they are old enough to use them. So we must teach them how to think. I believe that the culture which thought the best was ancient Greece (that is, about the 5th century BC), to whom we are indebted for so much.

However, how can we ignore the Romans, who knew the Greeks were their superiors in thought, but who mastered them and brought peace that no other contemporary culture could? Their appreciation for the practical would certainly serve them well in modern America.

Going forward, how would 17th century Britain fare? 18th or 19th century America? The Byzantines? The Turks? 16th century France? The Hebrews for much of the last millinum BC?

This question is important, as I've hinted above, because we actually have the ability to train ourselves and our children to think the ways these ancient cultures did. Teach our children to think like Greeks, be as practical as Romans, adventurous as British, as learned as 18th century Americans, as pious as the Hebrews. It's the best thing we can do for them.