Sunday, December 18, 2011

Living in the present

Once upon a time, before I was mercifully removed from the dating scene, I went on a terrible date that ended with me in tears. Well, about half of my dates ended that way, but I knew in advance this particular dismal finish was coming when my every phone conversation with this potential match left me full of contempt for him and his persecution complex. He was always mad at someone who had slighted him--the last one, of course, being me. I should probably forget this traumatic experience with someone unworthy of my further consideration, but I can't, because he was such a jerk! He was one of those "nice guys" who's so bitter about how the world has treated them that they have forgotten how to actually be nice. So periodically, when I want to get mad, I think of him and his idiotic notions about "the past."

He was angry, about contracts and liability clauses and the legal system  and modern businesses, and basically just the whole world in general, and he wished we would all go back to "the good old days," when men were gentlemen and you could seal a deal with a handshake.

Well, I thought that was daft. People have been cheating each other since the beginning of time, and no determined crook was ever stopped by a handshake. So maybe modern contracts and legal documents are a tremendous hassle, but at least they let you know where you stand.

Since my good sir was not so specific as to state which era he looked back on so fondly, I was forced to conclude he meant the worst of all of them. But seriously, what was "good" about any of the "good old days?"

It surely wasn't the public health system. Who would really want to live in a time before the discovery of bacteria, when people regularly died from minor infections? Nowadays we can get treatment for anything from a debilitating condition to a minor annoyance. Back then, they didn't even have aspirin.

I certainly wouldn't want to go back to any social system in the recent or distant past. What's cool about child labor? Segregation? Treating women like baby-making machines? Buying and selling other humans as slaves?

I feel fortunate–blessed, even–to live in the present. Though some pessimists out there are convinced we're all heading to hell in a handbasket, I'm convinced I'm living in the greatest era to have ever existed!