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Lucky to be alive now?

Elysha and I were listening to the Hamilton soundtrack again on the way back from New Jersey last week.
So many of those songs strike a chord with me, but the one I’ve been thinking about most lately is the song “The Schuyler Sisters,” which introduces Eliza, Angelica, and Peggy Schuyler for the first time. During the song, the sisters sing:
Look around, look around at how lucky we areTo be alive right now
These same lines are repeated later in “That Would Be Enough” when Eliza is trying to convince Hamilton to remain at home for the birth of their first child.
These lines have always struck me as sounding a little crazy.
Lucky to be alive in the eighteenth century?
Admittedly, 1776 is a time of enormous social upheaval, stunning political reform, and unfathomable military victories against the most powerful empire in the world. But it’s also a world plagued by slavery, disease, infant mortality, widespread illiteracy, rampant poverty, a lack of economic mobility, and so much more.
No electricity. No refrigeration. Limited climate control. No forms of rapid transit or communication. Limited medical knowledge or interventions. Limited access to books and other sources of information.
And for women like the Schuyler sisters, their options were exceedingly limited. They couldn’t attend college. Couldn’t hold political office. Couldn’t vote. Couldn’t divorce their husbands. Couldn’t pursue careers in chosen fields. Maternal morbidity rates were astronomical by today’s standards.
The eighteenth century sounds pretty miserable from my modern perspective.
What a terrible time to be alive.
Those lyrics felt especially relevant in light of the events of yesterday. Over the course of the day, I spoke to clients and business partners via Zoom in eight different cities on three different continents, including:
Madrid, Spain
Melbourne, Australia
Ontario, Canada
San Fransisco, California
Bogata, Columbia
New York, New York
Killington, Vermont
Los Angeles, California
I also used WhatsApp to communicate with a business partner in Isreal, and I used email to communicate with people in Washington, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, and Dallas, along with a number of people in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
This doesn’t even begin to address the tens of thousands of people who read the blog post I’d written and posted before sunrise and the numerous text messages sent to people around the country.
By the end of the day, after I’d spoken to my last client in Melbourne, I found myself thinking about how lucky I’m alive now, to be able to work with people around the world with such ease and speed.
But then I remembered the Schuyler sisters, singing about the wonders of 1776, and thought:
A century or two in the future, someone may read these words and think, “Lucky to be alive in 2023? What was that fool thinking? The twenty-first century sounds horrendous.”
Our modern technological marvels will likely seem like hammers and chisels to someone in the future.
Who knows what the next two hundred years may bring? Like the human beings alive in 1776, the people alive today can’t begin to imagine what the world will look like in 2223. My journey around the world via a computer screen may appear quaint and silly to the people of the future. It may strike them as ridiculously limited and exceptionally inefficient.
Probably so.
The Schuyler sisters, if they were indeed feeling lucky about being alive in 1776, were likely feeling no different than how many of us feel today. Lucky to be alive in a world that strikes us as technologically advanced, when in truth, we are probably occupying a future generation’s version of the Dark Ages.
Unless, of course, climate change, artificial intelligence, self-serving politicians, or alien invasion ravage our world, turning the planet into an unrecognizable hellscape.
In that case, maybe I am lucky to be alive now before all hell breaks loose.