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Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Final Age

This morning I was at the chiropractor getting some therapy on my back (it's been stiff for a week or so, and on top of that I took a nasty trip the other day and made it worse), and as I sat there with my face coned in between the two pillows I got to thinking... The cool gel and warmth of the ultrasound machine were soothing to my back, and it's amazing to think that those technologies have come out this very generation, if not perhaps within the past two. No one a hundred years ago would have ever in their lives felt the sensations I was feeling at that moment.

And then I started thinking, gee... the United States has been a melting pot of culture, and just a couple hundred years ago people would go their entire lives without ever tasting what we take for granted today. We can eat, at the touch of phone buttons or for a few dollars and a drive, food from virtually anywhere in the world. Chinese food is here, Pizza is common, Mexican food is everywhere... I even have an authentic Thai restaurant in my hometown. Some blends of spices were unheard of back in the day. The flavors that roll around in our mouths nightly were never experienced by our ancestors.

And forget the past hundred years. Imagine a thousand years ago, or before Christ's time. I read once we intake more information in a week (or maybe it's a day) than the common Israeli peasant of 100 B.C. would learn in his entire lifetime. Think of our colleges, or the Internet. There is enough information for us to learn to do virtually anything, and do it well. We know how the majority of things work. Science is constantly changing, but things like continental drift, gravity, and molecules are now common knowledge. Imagine living in the age of mythology, when the best you could do if you had a question is blame it on the gods. Now we can go literally feet away in any building, go to Google or Wikipedia, and find out almost anything we want to know.

Even a few years ago, I don't know how my parents took us on road trips without Google Maps or GPS on their iPhones. How did I ever survive as a teenager with Dial-Up Internet? Or without cell phones. The other day my wife and I went to the checkout at the supermarket and realized we had forgotten peanut butter. I ran down the aisle and, realizing I didn't know what size she wanted, called her up and asked her.
It's no wonder our technology is developing exponentially faster. Each new invention saves us a little more time in our schedules, until it adds up and we have all the time in the world to think, create, and invent.
Sometimes I long for the simple days, but as I walked out of the chiropractor's office feeling much better, I realized how lucky I am to be living in these days. When I have a toothache, it can be gone in a week with treatment. Imagine the common Dark Ages serf not even having a toothbrush, making never-ending toothaches inevitable to look forward to. Why do we complain about gas prices? It's a miracle we can get in a big carved metal cart and travel a day's journey in an hour. Why do we complain about the cost of a doctor's bill, when the ancient Roman citizen would just have to go on in life with pain because the herbs or poultice didn't do their magic?

Whether you're religious or not, you have to admit that we are in the Final Age of the world. Millennia of history have culminated in the uniting of the world's communications, the ease of travel, the completion of geographical discovery, and the pinnacle of technological research. We are fortunate indeed to experience that which no other members of the human race have felt since the dawn of man's creation.

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