I am glad
“Let others praise ancient times; I am glad I was born in these.” – Ovid
There’s a lot to think about in this brief quote. For one thing, isn’t it amusing to realize that Ovid lived in comparatively modern times, at least as he saw it? Terms such as “ancient” and “modern” are relative, aren’t they?
But even though Ovid lived thousands of years ago, I think he was right to be grateful for being born when he was. Can’t most of us say the same? I have no wish to be younger; I have fond memories of growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, and though I find many exciting changes on the horizon for the generations to come, I also regret the loss of much that I took for granted most of my life, and worry about all the usual things older generations fret over.
When I was a child, I had romantic notions about past centuries, and I still sometimes fall into that way of thinking. But I know better than to believe the fantasies that go along with romanticizing the past. I know that the attractive but elaborate clothing would not have been nearly as easy to live in as the comfortable attire we wear now. I know that horse-drawn carriages mean lots of smelly excrement in the roads (just visit Colonial Williamsburg sometime if you don’t believe me). I like smoke-free public buildings and antibiotics for deadly infections and clean water for drinking and bathing, anytime I want it, at whatever temperature I choose.
I probably will always find the past fascinating and instructive. Most likely, I will always love historical fiction that takes me on imaginary adventures in different places and eras. And I find it hard to accept the argument that students need not learn history to have a complete education.
In spite of all that, though, I am glad to live in these times. Aren’t you?