There’s a storyline in the show Downton Abbey about the daughter of an earl falling in love with her chauffeur. When she decides to marry him, her parents and friends are angered and shocked. In the 1900s it was unacceptable to marry someone in a class so much lower than your own. There’s a scene where the daughter is fighting with her family and she points out that the norms of the time are shifting. Marriages between people of different levels of social class were becoming more accepted by society. “The world is changing,” the daughter says.
I thought of this today as I listened to this podcast episode. Isaac Morehouse is interviewing Steve Patterson. Patterson is talking about how we no longer need a credential to be a philosopher and author. “The world is changing,” he notes.
At every point in time, there are people challenging the status quo. They don’t live by the conventions and social norms of the time. They look towards what could be and what needs to be. They go create it.
Then there are the people who hold on to what the norms are. They do not seek to change the world or even change when the world does.
When watching Downtown Abbey, we are appalled by so many of the norms of that time. My friends shout, “Wow! Society back then was crazy!” as we watch. We are angered that a woman couldn’t marry the man she loves because of the norms of the time. We watch this show and we are outraged that people allowed their lives to be so limited by the status quo. And then we turn off the TV and we turn back to reality, where we accept and live by the current status quo of 2017.
Someday, people in the future are going to look back on this time we’re in right now and they’ll be appalled. They’re going to be outraged by some of the norms we have. The things we didn’t challenge because they’re just ‘how things are’. They’re going to watch a TV show set in the year 2017 and over something they see they’ll exclaim, “Wow! Society back then was crazy!”
Watching any show that is set in an earlier period of time reminds me that things will never stay the same. The world is changing and we can either hold on to how things were or help bring about the change.