Paradigm Shifts Drive History

It is necessary to reflect on the past in order to make a better world for future generations.

by Jan Wright, Publisher

Over the years, our history-themed issues have traditionally been among our most popular. It’s fascinating to read about life “back in the day”—the simpler times, the primitive technologies, the less hurried pace. The older generations may shake their heads in disbelief at the changes that have taken place in our lifetime—changes which seem to be happening faster and faster today. What does that mean for a growing generational divide? 

We often use the phrase “pre-internet” when distinguishing our past from today’s hyper-connected world. In the years to come, “pre-pandemic” or “pre-COVID” is likely to follow suit. Like World War II or the Great Depression, the current pandemic feels like a paradigm shift of enormous scale, the likes of which come around once in a generation.

For the young people who signed up to serve their country in Afghanistan and Iraq, 9/11 was a defining moment. But this tragedy did not alter most Americans’ daily routines. The “Great Recession” felt earth-shattering in 2008, yet life quickly reverted to “normal”… albeit with the charge to “do more with less.” The same could happen with COVID-19, if a vaccine is developed quickly. Only time will tell. 

It is interesting how the most significant paradigm shifts drive the coverage of history—this issue alone, for example, features multiple articles related to World War II and the Great Depression. Because of those who documented their experiences, we can see how others coped during incredibly uncertain times. History builds empathy, if we let it. Learning about the struggles of previous generations—and of those who are different from us—is one of the best ways to do so. Indeed, history matters.

The past few months have been humbling, and all of us are learning to meet the moment in different ways. Change is good, but it’s often painful. It is necessary to reflect on the past in order to make a better world for future generations. We hope some of these articles will inspire you to be a part of this change for the good. 

Keeping a small business viable during these unsettling times has not been easy. Last month we honored our Local Legends through a virtual event, and when we celebrate our 40 Leaders Under Forty this fall, we will do so in an entirely new way. We are grateful for your continued support—without you, we have no future. Please continue to send your thoughts and suggestions, as we continue to tell the stories of our community’s past, present and future. PM