Tuesday, February 9, 2010

If I lived 100 years ago . . .

Put on your philosophy cap for a minute and consider something I ponder from time to time . . .

If I could switch lives with a mother and housewife from 1910, what would it be like?  Would I think her life was easier?  Simpler?  More difficult?  Would I be healthier?  Would I feel trapped by social limitations as a woman?  Would I feel content?

What if that woman from 1910 could live my life in 2010 for a few months.  What would she think?  Would she feel that I "had it made" because I had so many more opportunities and conveniences than she'd ever had?  Would she love my house with indoor plumbing and electricity, a refrigerator, dish washer, stove, furnace, air conditioner, washing machine, TV with countless channels, and a computer?   Would she feel free, fortunate, and empowered?  Or would she just be overwhelmed and confused?

In 2010, I have unending options and opportunities.  I'm not bound by the limitations that women used to have.  I can choose whether to stay at home with my children, or go to work in any field and pay someone else to care for my children.  I can drive myself almost anywhere I want in a safe car on nice concrete highways. I can easily buy clothes that I didn't have to sew myself. I can get nearly any food I want from the grocery store - even meals that are already prepared and only have to be heated.  I can also stop and pick up dinner at countless restaurants and not have to cook at all!  Shouldn't that make me feel free and fulfilled?

But I'm also flooded with so many choices.  Too many options - so that I get stressed out and confused on a daily basis trying to make multiple decisions.  Except for birthing babies, I can barely tell the difference between the purpose of a man's life versus a woman's life in 2010.  I can run myself ragged by taking advantage of the unending opportunities that are available for me, my husband, and my children - classes, lessons, hobbies, extra-curricular activities, community clubs, church activities, meetings, health clubs, groups to support any lifestyle possible, and on and on.

What about the huge number of ways to stay in contact with people - phone calls (on cell phones even, so you can call anybody at any time, no matter where you are), email, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, blogs, and maybe even by a hand-written letter sent in the mail (we hardly know what that's like anymore!) or seeing each other in person, face-to-face.  We aren't isolated in a house miles from neighbors, without a phone and without easy transportation.

And then there's the health issue. Life expectancy was much lower in 1910.  Antibiotics and many other life-saving medications and medical procedures were not yet invented.  A large number of foods from other parts of the country or even the world wasn't available, so food variety was often limited.  But in 1910, there weren't the mass amounts of chemicals, pesticides, and other toxic things in our food that currently endanger our health.  Food looked like food; it wasn't fake stuff masquerading as food.  There was less cancer, less diabetes, less heart problems, less chronic health issues; but those who did have health issues had very little help.  In 1910, electromagnetic fields were unheard of.  Today, they're everywhere, inescapable, and probably affecting our health is ways we don't yet know.

If I could go back to 1910, would I want to stay?  If the woman from 1910 could live my life, would she want to stay in 2010?  I kind of think both of us might like to have a combination of both our lives.  We're so fortunate today to have the knowledge, conveniences, and advances that we do.  But we're overwhelmed with the sheer number of choices and opportunities that overload us daily.  Life in 1910 has far fewer options; survival ran our lives. We wouldn't have water if we didn't go get it from a stream or well.  We wouldn't have food if we didn't grow it, raise it, or hunt it ourselves. 

Back then, I would need to rely on God daily for help just to survive.  Today, I need to rely on God daily to weed out all the bad choices, even good choices, to find the BEST choices that He wants for me and my family.  And I guess that's what it all comes down to - God was, and is, and is to come.  But still, "what if?" I can't help thinking.


Mom said...

Remarkable, Chris. I was thinking about my Nana, Grampy's mom. She was born in 1893, so was 17 in 1910. Grampy was born in 1916, her first child of 4. Trying to think of your posting in her shoes. She was in the city, so different than your farm wife that you seem to write about here, but many of the same questions. Thank the Lord, she also depended on God daily. :)
Love, Mom

Bev said...

Hello Chris - I dont think we've met before. Thank you for visiting my blog. I came over for a visit and found this wonderful post! My daughter and I have often had this conversation - mostly end up saying we're thankful we dont live in Little House on the Prairie days for the advances in medicine, etc. but they certainly had a much simpler life back then. I'll be back for more visits!

sandy headlee said...

Thought provoking for sure Chris! I would have to agree with you that I would want a little bit of 2010 mixed with a little bit of 1910. Just having children and seeing them go thru infections such as strep and knowing that antibiotics can cure them, can't imagine what it would have been like back then to watch them suffer and use what limited supply of medicines were available. I also believe as you did regarding our daily need for God with 1910 being focused on Him helping us to survive and 2010 Him helping us to "survive" the mass chaos that our lives can sometimes be. Excellent blog entry, really enjoyed reading it and responding to it!:)