‘May you live in interesting times.’ Many of us are more than familiar with that Chinese saying not least because of the Corona Virus and its origin in the town of Wuhan in China. ‘May you live in interesting times’, interestingly enough, is actually meant as a curse – the thinking being, I imagine, that living in uninteresting times is calmer, more peaceful and more conducive to one’s well-being. And, boy, after three months of lockdown and Covid restrictions not to mention the thousands of tragic deaths, most of us, I feel sure, will agree.
Covid aside (if that’s possible) I got to thinking about the times I’ve lived through and I’ve concluded that, for sure, I have lived in ‘interesting times’.
Here’s a snapshot of those interesting times that I’ve been around for: the advent, in the 60s, of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones (among others) accompanied by long hair (on men) outrageous floral shirts, outrageous bell bottoms and changing sexual mores; the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, on 22nd November in 1963 in Dallas; the landing of the first man, Neil Armstrong, on the moon in July 1969; the 2nd Vatican Council (1962 –1965) turning altars around (to face the people) turning Latin into English and turning several Catholic traditions on their heads (all this from the 80 year old Pope John 23rd) I have been around for ‘moving statues’, the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the profoundly healing and historic peace in the North.
I have lived through, and still live with, Ray Houghton’s famous goal against England in Stuttgart (1998) his equally famous goal against Italy (’94 World Cup) I have lived through the Jack Charlton era in Irish soccer and the marvellous, unforgettable hysteria it created throughout the land. Closer home I have enjoyed, up close and personal, the unique Brian Cody Era (still on-going) and experienced the absolute joy of Kilkenny’s four-in-a-row, culminating in the magnificent win against arch rivals Tipperary. I’ve been around for the legalisation of contraceptives; the terrifying, horrifying 9/11that changed forever air travel. I’ve lived through church scandals, the voting in of Same Sex Marriage, the recent historic, political ‘marriage’ of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael (however long it will last) as the Greens are not making things easy. Oh, and I am still living through Brexit! Getting back to Covid-times, interesting times, for sure, surreal times, unprecedented times. Or are they?
A different perspective
The following email from a friend put our ‘unprecedented times’ in perspective. Or at least a different perspective.
‘Imagine you were born in 1900. In 1912 the unthinkable happened. The ‘unsinkable’ Titanic, the largest man-moving object on earth, hit an iceberg and sank claiming the lives of more than 1500 passengers. And you are twelve. In 1914, World War 1 begins and ends when you are eighteen leaving 22 million dead. Soon after, a global pandemic, the Spanish Flu (1918 – 1920) breaks out killing 50 million people and you are alive and twenty years old. When you are twenty nine a global economic crisis occurs that starts with the collapse of the New York Stock Exchange causing inflation, unemployment, starvation and widespread devastation. When you are thirty nine World War 11 begins, ending in 1945, leaving 60 million dead; in the Holocaust, 6 million Jews die and the first Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in Japan on 6th August 1945, killing up to 226,000 people. When you are fifty two the Korean War begins, when you are sixty four yet another war starts, the Vietnam War, which ends when you are seventy five. Today we have all the comforts in the world amid this new pandemic, But we complain because we need to wear masks. We complain because we must adhere to social distancing, we complained because we had to stay confined to our homes where we had food, electricity, running water, wifi, Netflix , Zoom and Sky, none of which existed back in the day but humanity survived. We should be thankful that we are alive. We should do everything we can to protect each other.’
So, we think we live in interesting and unprecedented times? We should think again.