“We know some things they didn’t know in the past, but they knew things that we’ve forgotten.” — Ashleigh Brilliant
Here’s something to ponder: if you were to time-travel and suddenly swap places with a person of your age, gender and ability who lived two or more centuries ago, which of you would have a harder time functioning independently in your new surroundings? It’s a safe bet that either of you would need a good bit of help from people who might be baffled at your ignorance.
In any case, we have one distinct advantage over our ancestors: we have the option of learning some of the things they knew. Whether we learn and practice age-old skills on a camping trip, at a living history center or in a classroom, it might be strangely calming to focus our attention on something not requiring electricity, climate-control or a tight schedule.
The California missions are among many places all over the world where bygone ways of life can be studied. It has become popular to look at the past through a harshly critical lens, but future generations will have ample reason to do the same to us, equipped with the benefit of hindsight. In our determination to rise above the mistakes and wrong actions of those who lived long ago, let’s not forget that people who lived in past centuries also have positive things to teach us.
If you could spend a day with your great-great-great grandparents, what would you most want to learn from them?