Most of the world lives in an era that surpasses all others in terms of technological, medical, and scientific success. The world’s best and brightest innovators produce brand-new inventions one after the other. While filmmakers like Woody Allen might still nurse a tender nostalgia for “Paris in the rain”, most people are fully occupied by the fast-paced present. Though they aren’t living in the Roaring Twenties or a Brontë novel, they can appreciate art deco and Byronic heroes from where they stand – which is part of the beauty of modernity.
At this point in history, no one should reasonably fear dying of tuberculosis at the age of thirty – nor are the majority of girls expected to have married and have given birth to two children by the age of sixteen. There is no bubonic plague, a cure for polio has been found, and malaria is preventable. Suffrage is universal in nearly all countries. The Internet and increased interconnectivity play a large role in linking people by their interests just as much as by their jobs. You could say that in comparison with, say, the 1300s, people enjoy rather comfortable lives.
The intention of this month’s Hub City question was to investigate different periods of world history, bearing in mind the myriad inequalities of years past which continue to this day. During Europe’s colonial period between the 1500s and, for some, as recently as the 1950s and 60s, racism, sexism, homophobia, and imperialism were the default setting for most developed, industrialized nations. For some, these prejudices continue to this day. And what about developing nations? Who can say if we truly live in such incredible luxury when over 1.29 billion people currently live in absolute poverty?
With this in mind, we asked our columnists: If you could live in any period of history, which would it be and why? The answers and perspectives they provided were unique and accounted for several different social factors, while others speculated on the future. All are fascinating takes on the question and imagine the world fully and with the complexity it deserves.
I’d live in the future if it wasn’t terrible. If it was a post-war dystopian wasteland with no electricity or working plumbing, then I’ll stick around this century for a little while longer. On the other hand, if the future was great and we had no energy problems, social issues, or debt crises, then that would be cool. It would be weird to live in the future, because all of the things coming out now that I think are cool will be ancient, forgotten e-waste. Imagine how well computers would run. I doubt towers or laptops or smartphones would exist in that kind of future. Everything would happen through implants, and if the future was really good, there wouldn’t be any sort of political conspiracy about spying on people with them, either. The only thing worse than social stigma is people spying on your social stigma. It would also be really nice if we got rid of national boundaries and became a space-faring species. I hope we realize one day that we can’t explore deep space with different flags plastered all over our spaceships and political competition corrupting the whole process. I think I’d get in on interstellar exploration if I could. The prospects of it are very exciting. It is theorized that the universe is so unfathomably huge that anything imaginable is possible. It would be fun to test that theory, and see what the random effects of the universe can produce.
I would personally choose to experience the Ancient Greek eras: the meaningful lectures, amazing architecture and interesting lifestyles surrounding them; being able to see the Nomads settling on Greek territory and build their towns from the ground-up; the Greeks conquering Troy with the infamous Trojan horse. The tyranny that would occur would be devastating to the city-states but the birth of true democracy would be worth witnessing. The most rewarding and influential part of living in Ancient Greek times would be the beginning of philosophy and upcoming playwrights. The arts of that era were magnificent, full of passion and eloquence.
The battles and wars would definitely displease me, but I think they would add the historical weight I would crave during my journey to voluntarily travel to another era. I would think that tyranny, war, murder, discovery, different beliefs and not seeing the full and astronomical skies that are above would be heart wrenching and ultimately, confusing, but you would know no different if you were born into this period of time and had to live the life given to you.
Although the lives of many Greeks during this period were poor and probably full of fear, these periods brought us the grounds of many new and original ideologies that we, as a society, still use to this day. This in itself, is fascinating.
Honestly, I’m happy where I am. Yes, there are many things I fancy about different time periods. But with that said, I don’t think my life would be as great as it is right now. I’d rather be able to move back and forth between different time periods. I don’t think I’d be able to stick to just one and settle down.
One of my favourite eras is the Victorian Era. But there were so many problems back then. Some of the main concerns were sanitation, disease, poverty, and child labor. These problems would eat at you until you were dead. I’d rather live until I’m old than die young, thank you very much.
The life I get to live right now is full of great things, things that I’ve grown accustomed to. When I look around my room I see more things than I can count that I take for granted, things that make me realize how lucky I am. I have a great computer, five different cameras from analog to digital and the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept on.
Yeah we have problems in our world right now. And not every single one can be fixed. But I believe we can mend the ones we’ve made and help fix the others. I’m positive that 2013 will be full of great things that I won’t want to miss out on.
If I could live in any era other than the 21st century, I would choose to live in a fictional world in preference to history itself, because imagination is limitless. I would choose to live in Middle Earth during the Third Age. Young and beautiful, Middle Earth was not only a time, but a place. Though the work was laborious and days were long, food, drink and friendship were wholesome. I’d like to live in those days because the land was fresh and cared for, the crops plentiful.
Of all the regions that one could live in, I would prefer Lothlorien, so that I may dwell in silver meadows and rest under golden leaves with the High Elves. They were the fairest “people”, so to speak, just as Lorien (known by many names) was the fairest realm in all the land. Either that, or I would enjoy living amongst the Hobbits in the Shire because they were hospitable, though shy. They would always ensure that every visitor was well fed.
J.R.R Tolkien demonstrated what life was like during the Third Age when men, elves, and dwarves roamed the same land. Though it’s considered a fictional time period, Middle Earth was so well described that it can be perceived as if the events actually occurred. It has been said that Tolkien was not so much the author of Middle Earth as its historian, not so much its creator as its discoverer. To be able live with his characters in a place so seemingly real, would be a perfect escape.
I have always thought that it would be fascinating to be able to experience, first-hand, periods of history which I can only read about, and that it would be even more fascinating to be able to experience what lies ahead in years to come. In this way, I imagine that visiting either the past or the future would be much like visiting a foreign country. However, even if I found things in the past or the future much better than they are in the present, I imagine that at some point, I would want to return to the present.
The present is my home. It is what I know, and I am who I am in the present because of the time in which I live. I might not always like everything about myself or my time, however, I do understand that although it’s important to be conscious of what has happened, and what could happen, to desire to be removed from what is happening is to thoroughly reject one’s own identity, and to ask for a new identity which cannot possibly exist.
I would live in the 21st century, so I can watch humanity build spaceships, quantum computers, 3D printers, nanotechnology, antimatter, and virtual reality. I estimate about 15 years until it all gets developed enough to change the world!
I would absolutely live in this century. Oftentimes I would say a different time period, but I am excited to see what is next for the world’s brightest. I think that there is so much that we are so close to, and that eventually life will be changed by one of the many inventions of this time.
19th century, though not the best living conditions, it would be so COOL!
I would like to live through the ‘60s to ‘80s over and over to see if it would change the same way. A lot of cultural changes happened during that time and it would be awesome to experience it as someone who grew up in the ‘90s to now.