Soon the year 2008 will draw to a close. I wonder where the time went? Probably the same question occurred 100 years ago in 1908. We often hear that our world is not "what it used to be." One hundred years do make a difference, but many things remain pretty much the same.
The following quotation from the Burning Man Web site's page on its 2006 art theme, "Hope and Fear, The Future," expresses it well: "We take comfort in the notion that we have a past to guide us, but we reinterpret history every day according to what happens in the present. The future, too, is a projection of our hopes and fears in what is called the here and now."
What occurred in 1908? What was it like then and how different was it from 2008? Not relying on what I have heard in the past, I used my trusty old search engine for the Web. It is not always the best source, but I critically scan its origin and it serves me pretty well. I was amused when I read that "History Makers Timeline -- Events for the Year of 1908" did not mention the zipper was invented in January 1908 by Gideon Sundback. This omission caused me to wonder who decides what is important on this or any day. Or does it really matter beyond the day that we currently experience?
I found the following 1908 and 2008 comparisons interesting:
1908: Henry Ford's first Model T rolled off the assembly line for a cost of $825 and with 25 mpg. Ford later lowered the price of automobiles by maintaining control of raw materials and using new mass production techniques. William C. Durant, a salesman who founded GM with 25 companies, incorporated General Motors and acquired Buick, Oldsmobile and Oakland, which would later be renamed Pontiac. He was not a good manager and was ousted from GM in 1920.
2008: The average car mileage in 2004 according to the EPA was only 20.8 mpg. The Toyota Prius is the first significant departure from the combustion engine since Henry Ford invented the Model T in 1908, says Newsweek. The auto industry is presently seeking congressional bailout.
1908: British Gen. Robert Baden-Powell publishes "Scouting for Boys," helping start a worldwide scouting movement.
2008: Great things still happen for some children with Big Brothers Big Sisters, but many children remain in need.
1908: The first horror movie, "Dr Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" premiered in Chicago.
2008: Horror movies and TV shows occur frequently and strive to be the worst ever.
1908: The Wright brothers begin public demonstrations of their flying machine.
2008: Exploration of outer space continues as our astronauts continue to journey.
1908: Austria annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina.
2008: World peace continues to be in limbo as Middle East countries exert claims for territory.
1908: "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" hit the charts.
2008: Rap hits something as it claims to be music but has shown success as a teaching aid for algebra.
1908: The first Gideon Bible was put in a hotel room.
2008: Today, any reference to God is eliminated from our public school systems.
1908: Albert Einstein presented the quantum theory of light.
2008: Adult stem cell research shows promising results for healing.
1908: The Medical Reserve Corps was formed, providing the first reserve of trained officers in the U.S.
2008: The Army Reserve celebrates a century of service.
1908: The National Conservation Commission, appointed by President Roosevelt, compiled an inventory of U.S. natural resources and concepts of resource management.
2008: "Reuse, reduce, recycle" today helps conserve our resources, though we still have much to do to reach our goals.
1908: An article by Robert Underwood Johnson in Century magazine, "A High Price to Pay for Water," helped bring the controversy to national attention.
2008: Water usage remains a high priority.
1908: The former mental patient Clifford Whittingham Beers founded the Connecticut Society for Mental Hygiene to start an American movement to reform of the treatment of mental illness.
2008: Budget cuts threaten adequate resources to help our mentally ill.
1908: Plague, malaria, cholera, polio and tuberculosis were prevalent throughout the world.
2008: Infection control, medications and immunizations provide prevention and treatment, but recurrences persist throughout the world.
1908: Most of the world depends largely on huge, polluting coal and oil generation plants.
2008: Energy use is not much more efficient than 100 years ago.
1908: The First International Congress of Psychoanalysis was held in Salzburg. Sigmund Freud's works were translated into English, and the word "id" used.
2008: Self actualization continues to be sought after.
1908: Radio was in its infancy. A wireless message was sent long-distance for the first time from the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
2008: Wireless and digital technology is now commonplace with answering machines, faxes, instant messaging and wireless cell phones packed with cameras, GPS and more.
1908: The first postage stamps in rolls were issued by the post office.
2008: We can print our stamps with an image of our choosing.
1908: Japan officially agreed to restrict immigration to the U.S.
2008: Immigration into the United States remains a problem.
1908: An international conference on arms reduction opened in London.
2008: Arms reduction still is on the agenda of the world powers.
1908: Automobile owners lobbied Congress for vehicle licensing and federal registration.
2008: The auto Big Three are looking to Congress for assistance.
1908: The Republican humor magazine, Judge, bemoaned the state of the economy shackled with a treasury deficit and business depression.
2008: The United States is in recession and the treasury deficit is immense. The entire world is affected.
Yes, the past and the present are similar in many ways, but the future is what we make of it. We can despair in hard times or be obsessed wondering what is in store for us. Or we can reach out to help others. If we look toward the star of hope, it will lead us to our newborn Saviour and we will sing with the angels, praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace to men of good will."
Ruth Moriarity, Hays, is a member of the Generations Advisory Group.