As part of a conversation among friends, I was recently asked the innocuous question: “If you could choose to live in any time period other than now, which one would you choose and why?”
This may be an easy answer for you, as it was for me on my initial reaction. But when I stopped to truly consider what other eras and time periods were like, it caused me to reconsider my knee-jerk reaction.
The conversation was so interesting we made a video about it for the Engage Magazine YouTube channel.
But the more I thought about the question, even after we finished making the video, I realized we really do live in a great period of history, and it’s not just because of the Internet. True, things may not be beautiful rainbows and ice cream with sprinkles all the time, but they have never been.
Communication has never been easier, cheaper, or faster. Right now we have the ability to talk to anyone across the world with little effort or cost.
I remember being on an international mission trip while in college. I called home one day only to realize having a conversation was extremely difficult. There was at least a 30-second lag between me speaking and my parents hearing what I said. We were constantly interrupting each other.
In 2009, my dad went on his fourth deployment to Iraq. While he was there, we talked face-to-face using Skype on a weekly basis. It was like he was in the room with me. Other military families use similar communication tools to have Daddy reading to his children before they go to bed. Never before in history has a family had the ability to be so distant, yet so close.
But some families are separated for more than a few months, as with most military deployments. Sometimes careers carry loved ones away for years.
It is safer and cheaper than it has ever been to travel to see loved ones and for loves ones to travel home. People like to complain about the cost of air travel, but plane tickets are incredibly cheap.
Even if you don’t like the idea of flying at 35,000 feet in the air in an insulated soda can, the automobile is an incredibly safe, efficient, and entertaining mode of transportation. I say entertaining because I have three children; having a portable DVD player in the back makes long car rides something they look forward to. In addition to being entertaining, you can also carry just about every comfort of home in many vans and SUVs today. Everything, that is, except your family doctor.
A few years ago my family traveled to Branson, Missouri, several hours from our home. While on this lovely vacation, our daughter became sick. My wife and I took her to a local physician. He examined her, called in a prescription, and took wonderful care of us.
That is a small anecdote to a much larger story. Today’s medical advancements go far beyond treating a bad case of strep throat and ear infection. Doctors today are able to treat diseases and medical issues that would have been death sentences a few decades ago.
Here is where you might think I bring up the Internet, but no. We have more access to the greatest minds in human history than ever before simply through the proliferation of literature today. More books are published every day. Though much of today’s books are not exactly literary gems, we can still find, buy, and read the literary greats today’s writers desire to emulate.
Outside the world of literature, organizations like Banner of Truth are publishing great theological works originally written hundreds of years ago.
Communication, travel, medical care, and knowledge are spreading across the world. And where these things go, the gospel leads the way. Christians in the medical field are able to travel to poverty-stricken lands and bring care and healing both physically and spiritually. Pastors across the world are given training and biblical literature to bring the deep beauty of the gospel to their home villages and towns.
Whenever and whatever you think of the troubles of today – and there are many – it must be said that it really is a great time to be alive.