Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Random Thoughts and Recent Conversations (A Continuance of Recent Posts)

I enjoy watching well-done period movies showing life as it was. At this time I'm in the middle of watching two separate movie series - John Adams and Into The West. Both are very well done (although I do have my complaints about the ways the whites and the Indians are portrayed in some parts of Into the West ) and depict American life of an earlier time with few flaws, as far as I can tell. In both series' there are many very sad and downright awful (but truly historically accurate) scenes, including amputation, a mastectomy, illness, bloodletting, death, etc. I think I enjoy watching these kinds of movies because I admire just how strong our ancestors were, and I wonder if I could have been as strong spirited. I admire their talent in woodworking, tinsmithing, blacksmithing, wagonmaking, even their traditional farming methods...all by hand and a talent passed down generation to generation.
I admire their drive, their will, their inventiveness.
I admire their morals and values - - yes, their morals and values as a whole seem to me to have been much stronger and higher than ours' are today. Mind you, I'm not saying all of those who lived back then were the epitome of humankind. We know that many were not.
A young lad of 13 would have known how to
hunt for food with his gun without question

And the government was every bit as rotten as we have today, if not more.
But, if our population in number was comparable to the mid-19th century, I believe that the greater majority of those back then were of a higher moral standard. One knew right from wrong, instead of this gray area mentality we seem to have today.
Many folks here in the 21st century feel that the high morals and values of folks back then is a myth, however. I don't think it is. We tend to think of ourselves as living in this wondrous age of enlightenment. Well, we're not. I don't believe most of us could hold a candle to their way of life in all its good and its bad.
A female friend of mine told me very recently, during one of our many history-laden discussions, that she likes the way "everyone had and knew their place back then." Now, before you go jumping all over me about people "knowing their place," understand that is not a jab to keep anyone into a submissive state. On the contrary, it was meant that family members had a job, knew what that job was, and did it. Whether it was emptying the chamber pots in the morning or chopping wood, whether it was cooking or washing clothes in the kitchen, whether it was filling the water basin or hunting for food, or whether it was harrowing the land or plowing acres of vegetables in the field, or maybe even spending the days at the mill, everyone's part was important.

One of the many jobs of an eight year old girl of the mid-19th century was to gather water for drinking and washing face and hands.

Could I hack it?
If I suddenly found myself living 150 years into the past I am certain I could survive, knowing I had no other choice. Humans have been known to do amazing things under stress and duress (although I am embarrassingly out of shape - that would quickly change now, wouldn't it?). And, I suppose I would eventually come to, living during that time, especially if the time travel experience included my wife and children.
We have numerous conversations of this sort, my friends and I.
But, I will be the first to admit in those conversations we tend to put people from the past on a higher pedestal than those from our present time. For me, I believe that goes back to my feelings of today's spoiled and whiny society: "As long as I got my big screen TV I'm fine," (etc.) right?
Oh, I'm just as guilty as anyone else in this attitude; I am not placing myself above or below the general modern populace.
On the other hand, I find there are folks here in century 21 who have meshed together the present with a strong dose of the past, and even a touch of the future, and they live wonderfully satisfying lives. They are the true minority.
It's these people who are the part of modern society, by the way, that I admire most.
Why are you not surprised?



Mrs. G said...

Well said, Ken. :-)

Mia said...

These are great thoughts--I recently participated in a re-enactment and it has left me inspired to simplify my life even more!
I enjoy your blog :)


Historical Ken said...

Thank you - I really do appreciate the kind comments!