Archive for January, 2010

2010/01/10

Before I Was Born

by mdjb

Before I was born, the world was a vastly different place. This is not to say my being born changed it, but I was born right around the mid-point of the twentieth century and the second half of that century was more technologically advanced than any era in history up until then.

I was born into the atomic age. The era of cold war and computers, television and space exploration, teenagers as a phenomenon and rock and roll, gadgetry and equal rights and terrorism and everyone capable of having their fifteen minutes of fame; all of these exploded on the scene during that period and before I was born many of these were considered in the realm of science fiction and imagination. The if-onlies of the first half of the century became yesterday’s news by the end of the second millennium.

Before I was born, people worked hard just to break even and people worked at careers and not too long before I was born an American president assured everyone that if they worked for most of their lives, when they got to their golden years they could enjoy a leisure that would make the time truly feel golden, so that the world I was born into held a promise and possibility most of my ancestors could not count on. By the end of the century that assurance was dwindling, but now people are being urged to provide the promise for themselves and being given leverage to do so.

That old world, which did not feel like an old world to the people around when I was born, is now historical in tone. Before I was born, for the most part, the recording of the times was done on film of black and white. Two great wars that involved most of the world were fought in the first half of the twentieth century. All the memories of the first are in black and white and much of the second is also.

We landed on the moon in 1969 and sent machinery much further into space later on, but it must be remembered man only learned how to fly heavier than air machinery in the beginning of the century. Automobiles which are a ubiquitous sight only came about in the 1900s. The Twentieth Century probably witnessed about a third of the inventions and achievements we take for granted in our daily lives. I was born at the mid-point and the acceleration of progress since that point is almost incredible. Things that became part of the human landscape in the first half of the century were phenomenal and many past great minds foresaw their coming, but if seers were able to describe in exact detail what has come about since my birth, they might have been burned as witches. Who could have predicted something like a pocket computer to wirelessly transmit messages, in a past century, or could even offer a reason for the need to invent such an object?

Before I was born, a millionaire was a rare bird and by dint of his achievement became a historical personage. Today they are “a dime a dozen.”

When I sit and daydream, I think I would have liked to be living in the world that existed before I was born. Since that time we have come closer to the possibility of actually going back there. We have cloned animals and may soon clone humans, now if we can conquer the time travel problem that would be the neatest trick of all.

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