I don’t dress up in character and I haven’t learned how to speak Klingon, but I have enjoyed the Star Trek TV series over the years – especially Voyager. I love having my imagination fired up by all the possible twists and turns that could be far in our future.
When I was writing Growing @ the Speed of Change last winter, I indulged in some daydreaming on a trip back in time. Imagine being a time traveler and taking a “magical history tour” of the vast array of significant and small “hinges of history,” or pivotal changes throughout the world’s major cultures in the past three thousand years. After just a few dozen stops, you’d start to see and hear recurring themes: “All this change is happening too fast”; “Things were much better in the good old days”; “Let’s destroy this new technology that’s spoiling our life”; “Nobody wants to work anymore”; “Stop the world, I want to get off,” and many similar refrains.
You could drop in to the Forum in ancient Rome and listen to renowned statesman, orator, and writer Marcus Tullius Cicero around the time of Julius Caesar. You might feel his pain as he laments, “Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.” Or you could sit in on the County Council meeting of 1904 in London, Ontario as councilors voted to petition the provincial legislature to regulate automobiles in the country. Why? They argued that the “automobile is a curse” due to the frightening of horses.
Let’s pretend you could continue time traveling and now move forward through time, swinging from one hinge of history to another, like a monkey through the jungle treetops. You’d likely be vigorously nodding your head in the 19th century when reformer, politician, and newspaper editor Horace Greely observes, “The illusion that times that were are better than those that are, has probably pervaded all ages.” As you move into the middle of the 20th century, you would be numbed from hearing the same messages over and over again. And you’d be agreeing with New York Times theater critic Brooks Atkinson, “In every age ‘the good old days’ were a myth. No one ever thought they were good at the time. For every age has consisted of crises that seemed intolerable to the people who lived through them.”
These days I am experiencing our tendency to be frightened by uncertainty and change. But history teaches us this is the essence of the creative destruction process that takes us into the next exciting era in our personal and collective growth.