Thursday, July 28, 2011

It Could Be Worse

Yeah, things look pretty bleak right now.

Every single person entrusted to represent us in City Halls, state legislatures, and in Washington DC is hopped up on clueless idiot pills. News organizations (and who know who else) are hacking the phones of murder victims and soldiers. Outrageous indignities must be suffered just to pay a whole lot of money to fly from Point A to Point B. Unemployment is high, pensions are disappearing, and mind-numbing reality TV has us in its grip.

I'll grant you, the second decade of the 2000's is off to a rousing start. But it could be worse.

Whenever I think life is going to hell in a handbasket, I pull out Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century. No, really, I do.

I first read this book back in 1979. Last century, doncha' know. For those of you who lived through it, cast your memory back to that dreary year. Ayatollah Khomeini and the Iran hostage crisis. Three Mile Island. Assassinations and bombings. Crowd stampede at The Who concert in Cincinnati. The dollar goes down, down, down on the world market. USSR invades Afghanistan. The President of the United States fights off a killer rabbit. Disco. And the usual weather calamities of storms,  tsunamis, tornadoes, and snow lasting 30 minutes in the Sahara Desert. All in all, a perfectly horrible, dispiriting year.

But after reading Tuchman's book about the 14th century? Shoot, 1979 seemed like the best of times.

The Black Plague. Hundred Years' War. Three popes (and, goodness knows, one is enough trouble). Pillaging mercenaries. The Little Ice Age. The Great Famine. The Peasants Revolt. No air conditioning, microwave ovens, or computers.  And, one more reminder, the Black Plague. Times were dire, and there was no escape. Most people couldn't read, so entertaining oneself with a good novel was out of the question. Couldn't lose yourself in a movie or PBS television series. And just think of the smell!

So if you're feeling low about the Casey Anthony trial or raising the debt ceiling, thank your lucky stars that you don't have to fight off the Black Plague, three popes, a Little Ice Age, and a famine without being able to check email and while smelling absolutely revolting. Or, that you don't live in 1979.

See? Chin up, there, friend. Things could be so much worse.


Anonymous said...

Amen to that! Just don't take away my AC - I look at what you wrote and see how blessed I am!

MaryB said...

Absolutely. My strategy to get through all the current awfulness is to concentrate on family, work, and writing. (Fingers in ears - la, la, la - not listening to the news.)