History’s Golden Age

Uji Temple_Kyoto

Intelligent Magazine published a reader contribution commenting on the best time in world history. The  contributor”s viewpoint was the Heian Period 784-1185 AD.


I begged the question in a Linked-in Forum in which I actively participate about whether the best period was the Heian Period or the Renaissance, and prompted by the curiosity of the participants, proffered this comment:

Of the two periods, the Heian Period and the Renaissance, I am biased towards the Renaissance, as the artists living during that time —including DaVinci, Michelangelo, and Dante, my favorite poet— are truly extraordinary and appeal to my esthetics.

But who could deny the greatness of Egypt in its high point, or ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, the Arab Empire, China around the time the Forbidden City was inaugurated, the age of Napoleon?—the list is lengthy. We could write an Intelligent Magazine entry in support of each as a legacy in its own time, in its own right.

In mostly all periods, the omnipresent characteristic was explosive innovation and a reverence for learning.

This said, we tend to romanticize the past. The scars have healed, and we remember the best, overlook the dismal points of a society. Near-sighted, we lack the focus to appreciate the majesty of our own era: a myopic vision that the hindsight of historical analysis clarifies.

My favorite period?—I live in a part of it. The period commencing with the Industrial Age through the Information Age that we now enjoy. That age began in the UK and continued in North America. And with it eventually came a more egalitarian society.

When I reflect upon other eras, fountains of exceptional advances in learning, I see mostly places where the nobles or patronized benefited rather exclusively. The hoi polloi did not share in the glory. At best it trickled down. In the present period of quantum leaps in material progress and learning, I see a more equal sharing of the pot between the innovators and achievers and the support followers making that success happen.

Both are necessary. It is collaborative team effort in a human toil.

This is the Age of Technology. And this is when I am glad that I live, no matter how much of a siren is the nostalgia for some past era of greatness.

The question always remaining is when will the advance in morality finally catch up with the material progress.

All the best,

Warren J. Devalier

©2011 Warren J. Devalier