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Tuesday
May182004

Comparing Realities

Just finished watching the Colonial House on PBS tonight, which is a very interesting show. The premise of the show is to send many (13-24) diverse volunteers off to live on a 1,000 acre plot in remote New England, to see what 17th century colony life might have been like.

My wife and I have actually watched similar shows over the years: 1800 House (A family lives in an 1800s London House for a summer) and Frontier House (A group of settlers live on the American frontier for a summer).

In each case, seeing life in pseudo-historic settings tend to make me thankful for the niceties I enjoy, and point out some of the things we've lost in our modern lives and how in many ways we have become soft compared to our ancestors due to our culture and technology.

Colonial House was no exception, as I quickly saw that it's virtually impossible for 21st century people to truly live as if it were the 17th century. All sorts of contentions arose in the second episode of the show, because all of the participants brought a 21st century approach to 17th century living.

Now, I'm not saying 21st century is bad — rather, I came to see that a person having lived a life in our modern world can never completely understand life back then.

This hadn't fully hit me until tonight, watching Colonial House — that as much as the participants try to recreate a life from back then, they will only know portions of that life, because in the end, they know they will eventually go back to their real lives. Nobody is held there by anything but their own choice and honor.

So, in some ways we can see what life then might have been like and this is a good thing. Knowing where we've come from is very valuable. But as with many things, there are experiences or knowledge of that life lost forever to us. It's unfortunate, but that's just the reality of the situation I suppose.

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