Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Hundred Years of Distractions

It's 2014 (no matter what we may absent-mindedly write on our checks, and probably will for a few more months). It's been a full century since World War I began, and we have to remind ourselves that WWI--also referred to as the "Great War"--plunged humanity into an age of modernity. We didn't think of it that way at the time, of course. That war was also referred to as "the war to end all wars," only proving that we were optimists in the extreme.

What does this have to do with anything? Nothing much, really. I was at the dentist this morning (one of those things you want to get over and done with before the new year, but this was the earliest they could work me in) and I was musing about the science of dentistry and its advances. I come from a family of bad teeth; the fact that I have any teeth LEFT is a miracle of modern dentistry. A century ago, I don't think I would have had as many teeth as I do now (and two centuries ago, I would be gumming food by now). But back then things that people took for granted were very different from what we do.

Distractions, for instance. What distracted the citizens of 1914 don't have much in common with what distracts us. They barely had electricity, and concepts like the Internet were the stuff of imaginative authors like Jules Verne.  

But we have plenty in common, 1914 and 2014. After all, they worried about war (and for good reason), and so do we. There are questions that were posed then that have never been answered (was George Washington an alien in disguise? Okay, that may be a question that's specific to me). So I ask you this: What will 1914, 2014, and 2114 have in common? What won't they?

Questions to ponder (and to distract) as you get used to signing "2014."

Eilis Flynn,
DANCING IN RED, on sale now

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