Fight Cynicism

Holidays are hard. For every happy family gathered around the hearth there’s someone sitting alone. It’s not always easy maintaining the spirit of the season given life’s pressures: money’s often tight, work is hard, and the evening news seems to wallow in negativity. Most folk have plenty to complain about—inflation, politics, even the weather. Some of the more exhausted souls even long for the past…back when “life made sense and everything was better.”

What people don’t seem to get is that ‘NOW’ is the best of times. Sure, things were simpler once but that doesn’t mean they were better. Too often we, as humans, just remember things that way. Listening to the “Back in my day” crowd, it seems obvious that yesterday’s unpleasantries disappear when viewed through rose-coloured glasses.

Apologists at least acknowledge the past’s ill. Revisionists don’t even bother, instead pretending that horrific injustices—like racism and prejudice—were mere inconveniences. And, unless you or a loved one lived through those particular horrors, that’s a believable fairy tale. The sad truth, however, is that whole groups of people were regularly belittled, berated, and occasionally beaten simply because they were different. Skin colour, religion, place of birth, sex, sexual orientation, disability, and mental health, there seemed no end to the reasons for such callous hate.

Despite modernity’s many frustrations, we’ve begun to eliminate some of history’s more grievous wrongs. Casual prejudice is no longer considered acceptable. Sure, some few citizens still harbour ill-will in their hearts but these are limited to an impotent, if vocal, minority. And, with every new generation, our country is becoming more tolerant.

It’s easy to become trapped looking at past bad behaviour, but there are tangible improvements taking place in the world around us every day. When it comes to health, wealth, and general quality of life the majority of 21st Century Canadians enjoy a level of comfort unparalleled. Take the most famous kings and queens of antiquity—from King Tut to Queen Victoria—and, to a one, they’d be amazed on seeing our world.

Did you wake up in a vermin free bed this morning? If so, then you’re already doing better than France’s famed “Sun King”—those powdered wigs were to help fight lice. Did you look out a triple-paned window this morning and see clearly—Cleopatra might have commanded armies but she didn’t have glass windows in any of her palaces. Did your breakfast include fresh fruit or perfectly preserved vegetables, include a healthy selection of pasteurized dairy and mould-free grains, and not cause nausea or other internal distress? Catherine the Great wasn’t so lucky. She predated refrigeration, canned goods, bacteriology, and rapid transport—meaning, despite her power her winter diet would have been more questionable than Taco Bell’s discount menu.

For every problem we currently face in this country, and they do seem to be piling up lately, there are a dozen old-time hardships that’s been relegated to the proverbial dustbin. Conscription is nothing more than a historical footnote, once deadly diseases have been defanged, and unions brought employees so many rights that few of us even believe the stories of our grandfathers. Technology, as much as many of us curse at it, has eased our daily burdens. One Dyson vacuum can clean a carpet quicker and more thoroughly than a dozen maids. A natural gas furnace heats more efficiently, and with far less environmental impact, than coal. Look around you, at home or work, and take a moment to appreciate all of our world’s everyday miracles. Not just the big ones, like smart phones and air fryers, but things like affordable clothing, effective medicines, and personal property rights.

When next someone complains, point out just how good we have it today. Maybe load them in your vehicle, the one with the heated seats, and drive them across town to one of the dozens of restaurants in our area for a quick, safe, and reasonably priced meal—all options unavailable to Julius Caesar or even George Washington. It truly is an age of wonders out there…don’t be too cynical to appreciate them all. Our ancestors sure would be impressed.

Posted on: December 20, 2022, by :