Events of the last week prompted me to write about uncertain times for today’s blog post. It soon occurred to me that all times are uncertain because we cannot see into the future.
We tend to think the time we’re living in is more unpredictable than any other time, but if you’ll stop and think about it, you might see that life is and always has been full of doubts, worries, and stress. The unknown can do that to you.
I think about the uncertain times my known ancestors lived through:
English-speaking Lowland Scots being taken into the Gaelic-speaking Kintyre Peninsula in the southwest of Scotland to be tenant farmers in the 1600s and being required to attend a church where only Gaelic was spoken;
Scottish immigrants crossing the Atlantic and settling in the Carolina backcountry/wilderness in the 1760s; and
Those Scottish immigrants facing the American Revolution and not knowing what the outcome would be.
On December 23, 1776, in “The Crisis,” Thomas Paine wrote the following:
“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.”
My ancestors lived through those times. The deaths of my Morrison great-great-great-great-grandparents during the American Revolutionary War left my great-great-great-grandfather orphaned at the age of nine. He and his siblings were cared for thereafter by his uncles and their wives, but it must have been more than frightening.
Then came the following trying times:
War of 1812;
American Civil War;
Reconstruction Era in The American South;
My maternal great-grandmother’s death in childbirth in 1881;
My paternal great-grandfather’s accidental death while felling a tree for lumber to build a kitchen in 1886;
World War I;
The Great Depression;
My paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather both dying as young adults;
World War II;
Korean War; and
Illnesses and epidemics.
Living in the age of modern medicine and miracle drugs, it’s difficult for most of us to empathize with our ancestors who lived with the possibility of dying or watching their children die of typhoid fever, tetanus, flux, or polio.
When the Salk polio vaccine became available in the late 1950s, I did not fully appreciate what it meant to my parents. For me, as a child, I just remember our family going to the gymnasium lobby at Harrisburg High School on three Sunday afternoon after church to get an oral vaccine on a sugar cube.
The 1960s and years since have brought the following times of uncertainty:
Civil Rights Movement in the United States;
Numerous wars in the Middle East;
Rumors of more wars;
Incompetency and recklessness in The White House. (Don’t blame me; I didn’t vote for him!)
All of my ancestors down through my grandparents were farmers. I can’t imagine a life full of more uncertainties than one in which one’s livelihood is at the mercy of the weather.
I believe that God created the world with everything we need to not only survive but thrive. Human beings have brought on many uncertainties by not being good stewards of the world that God has entrusted to us – its animals and natural resources. Come to think of it, we have created most of the uncertainties ourselves – war, poor planning, poor agricultural practices, greed, and envy.
Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, volcanoes, and wildfires happen, but even many floods and wildfires are caused by man’s carelessness.
I attended two funerals in less than 48 hours last week. One was expected after a long battle with cancer, but the other one was quite sudden. Life is full of uncertainties.
Reviewing some of the events and hardships my ancestors faced, and the things I’ve witnessed in my 64 years has helped me put recent events and concerns in perspective.
The sun comes up. The sun goes down. The world keeps spinning around and revolving around the sun. What an amazing world!
Until my next blog post
I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann and Among the Living by Jonathan Rabb.
If you’re a writer, I hope you have lots of productive writing time.