Can you feel it? Spring is in the air and optimism abounds – at least in my heart.
But it isn’t just the smell of spring that makes me feel so good about tomorrow, it’s all the wonderful things that are happening in the world right now.
Sure, I know, there are wars and uprisings and weather catastrophes and people do attack one another – just as they always have from time immemorial, although in fact violet crimes are down, even though the reportage of them is up.
On balance, however, we are living in the best of times and every tomorrow looks even brighter.
Look at our much maligned health system. Sixty years ago, there may have been a lot of doctors ready to take patients, but there were still more patients who couldn’t afford a doctor because there was no Medicare then. And even when you did get a doctor, his medicine bag didn’t contain a lot of tricks: there was aspirin, castor oil and penicillin, the wonder drug. Insulin was still new. They had just discovered a vaccine for polio and smallpox, but kids were encouraged to get measles, rubella and chickenpox. The cure for a toothache was pulling the offending tooth. Cancer was a virtual death sentence.
Think how far we have come and how much can be done not only to alleviate pain and suffering, but how much life has been prolonged and how healthy we are as we enter retirement age! As they say, 60 is the new 40.
Back then, poverty wasn’t just the inability to buy a car or to have the new Blackberry X-10. Poverty was not having enough to eat and having nowhere to go to get a free meal. It was not having a warm coat in winter, wearing clothes that were too small or worn out, having shoes that were down at the heels, and socks with holes in them. Poverty was not having enough fuel to run the stove on the coldest days, walking three miles to school and mending those holey socks.
Poverty still exists but the bar for measuring poverty today has been raised considerably and even the poorest often have a television and even a cell phone.
In the bad old days, not everyone had a telephone, let alone a radio. Television was still in its infancy. Horses still plied the streets hauling ice for iceboxes and milk was delivered fresh each morning, along with your bread for breakfast. While those things were lovely in their own way, ice melted, bread quickly got stale, milk soured (especially if there was a storm brewing) and someone had to pick up after the horses.
Today, preservatives keep the bread and milk fresh, the refrigerator can practically read and most houses have at least two cars.
Today, we aren’t satisfied with regular definition on our brilliantly coloured television sets, we have to have high-definition TV and surround sound and 50–inch screens, not to mention the ability to use the thing to access the Internet so that we can watch our favourite series without waiting a week or being interrupted by ads.
Who’d have thought way back then that we could talk with face-time on one of our several portable devices to anyone in the world with almost instant access and that we could even pay our bills by just touching a few buttons.
Who’d have thought that we would be able to take crystal clear photographs and send them instantly with those same devices and that Kodak would be already a fading memory.
But the thing that really blows the mind is the new 3-D printing technology where we can now manufacture all sort of goods on an as-needed basis (there is an automaker in Winnipeg who is “printing” a car, and I know of a gun manufacturer here who makes his product using similar technology). There is also much going on in the bio-medical field, where human parts are being “printed” using our own cells and stem cells to eradicate rejection. There is even ongoing research to “print” meat!
This opens up vistas of a world where goods will be ubiquitous, where want will not exist, where suffering will be replaced with new life of our own making.
I don’t know about you, but this fills me with hope and with joy for future generations who will be able to focus on making life even better, filled with the adventure of travel to distant stars and the continued exploration of our wondrous universe.