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Stop the nostalgia. Now is the best time of all

World
11.06.2021
163
Stop the nostalgia. Now is the best time of all
Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik celebrated 2021 and many readers share the passion for the present. Photograph: EPA

A few weeks ago we asked: when was it bliss to be alive? It prompted a minor inundation of our inbox, but once we’d managed to come up for air, there was a surprising conclusion.

The best time ever … is now.

“THIS VERY MOMENT,” wrote Utta Hogan, from Ireland. “It’s unique, brand new, has never been here before. How exciting is that!!!”

“I have to say that now is the golden age,” said Sally Johnson from the US, citing longevity, emancipation, maternal mortality rates and other metrics that argue in favour of the current era. “Yes, we have challenges galore … but those challenges spark imagination, creativity, courage and cooperation (if we are smart enough to rise to the occasion).”

Susan Hayes was more dismissive. “What a silly question. The best time to be alive is today, this moment, right now!”

Around half of respondents agreed. You can read more from them in the section below entitled “What we heard”.

Otherwise, this week we were greatly cheered by:

The best city to live in in the world. Two-minute read Long Covid: a recovery story. Three-minute read Seven ways to change the world: an ex-prime minister’s vision. Three-minute read Nailed it! Man, 82, defies council with guerrilla carpentry. 90-second read Our anniversary name-the-date competition, final week. Six-week scramble Mount Recyclemore: an imaginative appeal to the G7. Also a six-week scramble

Stop the nostalgia. Now is the best time of all
What a waste Photograph: Hugh R Hastings/Getty Images

Lucky numbers

The global economy is set for the fastest recovery for 80 years, according to the World Bank. And the world’s most developed nations reckon they have a historic agreement that will make it harder for global multinationals to avoid tax by booking revenues in low-tax jurisdictions.

New Zealand marked 100 days since the last case of community transmission of Covid. The US meanwhile agreed to buy half a billion vaccine doses for distribution to the developing world.

And the number of people sleeping rough in the UK has fallen sharply since a peak in 2017.

What we liked

We were surprised to read that the US jail population – the world’s largest – is now falling, and that former prisons are being reused in imaginative ways.

And this seems supremely relevant: the power of the handwritten thank-you note.

What we heard

Erika Harrison from Calgary was adamant in answering the question of when it was best to be alive.

Now. Or hopefully, say, 50 years from now.Why?• War, pestilence, maternal and infant mortality have basically never been lower worldwide• Education, access to healthcare, scientific development, access to running water and indoor toilets/sanitation have never been higher worldwide• Women’s rights (& pay gap), BIPOC rights (& pay gap), LGBT+ rights, men’s equality (access to paternity leave, access to mental health resources, choice to not be a dad, etc) have never been better worldwide. As our society and awareness have grown, so too have we recognised areas in need of improvement – and in some cases, huge improvement. We have some big challenges facing us, like climate change, growing socioeconomic disparity, and threats of an erosion of rights (see: anti-abortion in US, and LGBT erosion abroad). But on the whole, it’s really, truly never been better. I can save my own money, choose not to marry, travel where I want to, choose whatever profession I want to be in – something my grandmothers never could.

Lorraine Dawes recalls the halcyon days of the 1950s and 60s.

My generation has been the luckiest: I was born the same month as the NHS, a good childhood diet with school milk, no primary school homework (our evenings and weekends were our own), safe to cycle on the roads, we could leave school at 15 or stay on with grants for higher education, get a job with built-in pension, afford to buy a house with a garden, get paid maternity benefit and child benefit in cash, growing equal rights for women, state pension at 60, free travel with the freedom pass, and a priority for the Covid-19 vaccination. I appreciate not everyone was as fortunate as me, but I certainly have been lucky.

Georgie Stuart favours more recent times.

The 90s was the last time you could enjoy an occasion without worrying about the ‘evidence’ being uploaded to social media the next day! A time we were less judgemental of others’ lives, and busy living our own – somewhat more carefree than now!

Dagny Sellorin from New Mexico writes in praise of the teenage years.

I am 72. I was not alive in 1066 or 1492 or 1865 or 1920, so I have no way to judge any time except the time I experienced myself. I don’t think anyone can really pass judgment on any time which they did not experience for themselves, without seriously romanticising, or conversely vilifying that time. In my lifetime, my teenage years … The 1960s, were the best time to be alive, not because of what was happening in the external world, but rather because it was my time of hope, discovery, potential, high energy and the freedom associated with not yet having to be 100% responsible for my own life … I could dream about being a part of the changes needed to make the world a better place, without being jaded by the realities of the roadblocks set up to prevent any of these changes from maturing. I submit that the “golden years” for any generation, or individual, are the years right before you are forced to confront the realities of keeping yourself alive by yourself.

Stephen Farrell thinks life is better for slightly older people.

The clever dick answer is of course now. I would however answer the question in terms of my decades. I realise it’s not what you’re looking for. In that case there is no doubt that they were in my 30s and my 50s. In one’s 30s there’s an interesting combination of youthfulness and the first taste of maturity. In one’s 50s, it’s the other way round. There’s still youthfulness, as there always will be, but it’s combined with greater maturity, and if the time has been used well, there may even be some wisdom.

Where was the Upside?

With Euro 2020, a welcome distraction from the ups and downs of the past 18 months. Follow the drama here, but don’t forget: it’s only a game.

Get in touch

Send all your Upside thoughts to theupside@theguardian.com. If you have more general questions or comments about any of our newsletters, please email newsletters@theguardian.com

Author:guardian

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