The Joy of Living Today

After watching Red Cliff (which led to me writing The Importance of Being Smart), I decided to read Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the historical novel upon which the movie is based. I’ve been familiar with Romance of the Three Kingdoms for more than ten years since its PC game was my favorite game, but I never read the book itself (here is an electronic copy of the book).

One thing I notice throughout the book is the level of warfare and violence at that time. There was almost no time of peace. The warlords always fought each other even for seemingly simple matters. And the level of violence was horrible. Those who faced death penalty suffered brutal deaths. The winning party could do whatever they wanted to the losing one.

This happened not only in China, but also in other civilizations. You just need to watch movies like Apocalypto to understand what I mean.

It makes me grateful that we live in the world we live today. Sometimes we take the quality of life we have for granted, but we now live in a world that is way more civilized and prosperous than it was.

I’m not saying that the world today is perfect; there is still a lot of room for improvements. But the scale and intensity of violence today are much lower than they were in the past. We now have things like the Geneva Convention that keep things under control most of the time. People in most parts of the world can live peacefully without worrying about warfare or torture.

This gives me a good reason to learn history: to realize how much better our life is today and be grateful for it. Sometimes you might want to complain about small things that go wrong in your life. But you should realize that your life today is way better than those of billions of people in the past. You have many more things to be grateful for than to complain about.

Photo by Dmitry Kichenko

13 Comments

  1. Although I agree with you in that we have many things to be grateful for, I don’t necessary agree that we are better off than those in the past. It’s really all a matter of perspective. I’m sure those that lived then and didn’t know any better thought that they had a great life. Also, they lived so simplistily that they may have even been less stressful on a day to day basic, without the worries of knowing what going on in the world. This kind of instant communication and knowledge only leads to creating a SMALLER world, not a larger one.
    But…I digress. Great article, good piece of insight to brighten my rainy day. πŸ™‚

  2. Excellent post. Personally, I have never been able to wish that I could have lived at a different time period. Despite all the stressors that exist today, to have the basics: running water, healthcare, food, is a very big blessing that we too often take for granted.

  3. Brandi,
    I agree that people in the past had better lives than us in some aspects. As you said, they lived simple lives and that is something we should learn about. But in aspects like warfare and violence (and many others), I believe we are better.

    Steve,
    Yes, those basics that we take for granted today were something that only a few people could access in the past. In fact, I once read that in a war more people died because of health issues than fights.

  4. I think it’s the best of times and the worst of times depending on what you focus on. Our filters and metaphors really can help us make the most of what we’ve got or the worst of what we’ve got πŸ˜‰

  5. I always felt that if I were born at any other time in history, I wouldn’t have lived very long. There’s a reason most people didn’t live past their 30s in ‘olden’ times.

  6. […] The Joy of Living Today, I wrote that one reason to learn history is to make you realize how good your life is so that you […]

  7. J.D. Meier,
    You’re right, our perspective plays a big role. So I guess we’d better focus on the positive πŸ™‚

    Annaly,
    Life expectancy is indeed a clear indication of how much better our world today is. Thanks for bringing it up.

  8. […] Latumahina presents The Joy of Living Today posted at Life […]

  9. i totally agree that we are making progress and that institutions like the geneva convention are infinitely valuable.

    i don’t agree that “people in most parts of the world can live peacefully without worrying about warfare or torture.” that is the case in europe, north america and australia (if you’re not in jail, at least). most other countries use torture routinely, some liberally, many are dealing with war. poverty is pervasive, often also in “civilized” countries (e.g. my country, canada, has a high incidence of child poverty).

    those of us who are fortunate have, i believe, the privilege to assist those who are still suffering. using history books dealing with both past and present situations is a great way to help us realize the importance of that.

  10. […] presents The Joy of Living Today posted at Life […]

  11. Isabella,

    that is the case in europe, north america and australia (if you’re not in jail, at least). most other countries use torture routinely, some liberally, many are dealing with war.

    I live in Asia and have friends in many other Asian countries. With a few exceptions like the Middle East, I can say for sure that most people here live in peace. Of course, the media highlights the conflicts so it may create the opposite perception.
    I agree with you that we have the privilege to help those who are still suffering.

  12. Excellent post…i think being grateful for all the world- opportunities that exists in the planet is phenomenal. The fact that we can learn from a person in a different part of the world is fantastic. I bet Thomas Edison wished he was alive now…

    any thoughts?

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