Google+ Badge

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Interesting Times

Some years ago I read a little tidbit that really made me think, and therefore stuck with me. The author of the book I was reading mentioned a Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times." When you first hear these words, they sound pretty cool, right? Nobody wants to lead a humdrum, boring existence, after all. But if you give it some thought, you will soon realize that it can, indeed, be a curse to live in very interesting times.

Let's start with boring times, shall we? In boring times, you most likely have a  reasonable income and therefore not spend time fretting about how you will be able to meet your expenses. Prices will be in line with most people's incomes, and supply and demand will be fairly well balanced. You will be in fairly good health apart from the occasional cold, although if you were to get sick, your moderately-priced but very comprehensive insurance coverage would leave you with no worries about affording medications or hospital visits. You could eat or drink pretty much whatever you chose without worries about food contamination or coronary disease or diabetes or weight problems. Your nation would not be at war, so you wouldn't have to worry about you or your family or friends dying in a far-off land. And it wouldn't be an election year.

Sounds lovely, right? Now let's take a look at interesting times. Interesting times are often full of events that really catch people's attention. History is full of interesting times. That's why we know about them. Oh, here's a good one - the Black Plague. I'm pretty sure that it had everyone talking. Any news of possible causes or cures would have caught everyone's attention. Oh, but that's old, you're thinking, and you're right. Okay, let's take a look at some things that are more recent.

There was the Revolutionary War, pretty interesting stuff there, and don't forget the European cousin, the French Revolution, and Madame la Guillotine. Oh, and the Civil War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq. And the American Suffragette Movement, Prohibition, The Great Depression, and the Civil Rights movement. Hippies, yippies, and pot and cocaine and heroin. And polio, mumps and measles, Ebola, Hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS. Bank failures and Ponzi schemes. Climate change, formerly known as Global warming. Hurricanes and earthquakes and tsunamis. And it isn't like any of these are exclusive to our recent history. These types of things have happened to humans all over the world, as long as humans have been here. 

I hope that in my efforts to explain this Chinese curse, I haven't put you on a big downer. I am just trying to make a point. Let's not forget those times in between, whether they be single days or weeks or months or years or decades. The wonderful times that are "boring." I can imagine that many of us hunger for more of them. So my wish for you is this: May you live in boring times, and may you find them interesting.