Mon 21 Apr 2008
I’ve just spent (I wouldn’t say wasted) half an hour browsing through a collection of old photographs made available by the Library of Congress on Flickr. Images of a world long gone, so old that even children depicted on those frames are most probably long dead. And a thought came back to me that I had years ago when first really reading up on the history of late 19th century: how easy it was, in a sense, to live one’s life then. The society’s values and roles were very clear then. No doubt as to what was wrong and what was right – everyone was believing in the general set of values based on the ten commandments and moral teachings of Christianity. Not everyone followed them – liars, murderers, thieves, deviants and the like were with us always – but no one questioned them. Most of insanity we see every day on the news now, including all possible perversions, was not thinkable or – at the vert least – was limited to single cases on the fringes of the society. No question then why general decency prevailed – no one posited immorality as a norm.
It very well might be that while we have much developed since then technologically as a culture we – Europeans – have rather declined. The turn of the 19th and 20th century was, I think, the golden age of our culture – even though the first seeds of the catastrophic 20th century were there already. Good that at least we have those images to remind us of times when right meant right and wrong meant wrong.