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Mrs Rodin’s late mother did a fair amount of international travel in her lifetime. One trip was to the Holy Land and to the pyramids in Egypt. She remarked about some of the photos taken in Egypt during the trip that “you can’t see the flies.” Apparently, there was an abundance of flies, but they simply are not caught in the images.
I was reminded of this when contemplating how much I like period pieces in cinema and television. Part of my Prime subscription includes ACORN, Britbox, and the like. The Brits do period pieces like no other. No doubt it is because, unlike their more youthful American cousins, they actually have places that are period pieces. And so it is that one can imagine being transported back to a place and time, say, the 1890s to 1910s, when there were just enough conveniences but before the mass carnages, when you might live your most ideal life.
That is, of course, if you were the right sort — the person with money, connections, prospects, and education. And therein lies the rub. It’s all well and good to romanticize how life would have been. But, in reality, there are flies.
“Flies” take many forms: First, there are the real flies and other insects that were transcendent until a truce was created through chemistry. Second, and related to the first, diseases were much more widespread before sanitation and chemistry quelled them in most Western countries. Third, accidents of birth truly determined how good a life one would lead in most societies.
And so it is that we must contemplate modern-day America and the West. Things are pretty good. There are bad signs, of course. We may yet ruin a good thing. But it cannot be denied that even our poor live better than 17th-century potentates. They enjoy better healthcare (poor as it might be relative to those with greater means), they have access to fresher food, they have unimaginable access to entertainment and information, they have living accommodations that are much more comfortable.
It is a great time to be alive. We may screw it up — and I fear we will. But relative to earlier times, we can count our blessings. And for those of us on this site who are septuagenarian, we just need the good times to continue for another decade or so. I do worry for the children, however.
I have always observed how so many that publicize their belief in reincarnation always describe their past lives as ones of prominence and power. That is of a piece of romanticizing life in bygone eras — a world without flies.Published in