Progress–However Slowly

British historian Ian Mortimer usually writes about history as if he were a time traveler. In his latest, The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England, he explains the sights, sounds and smells one would be exposed to were we to be transported back to that time. All in all it was he says a dangerous and brutal time, a time of “death, disease, suffering and incredible violence…half the population didn’t live past the age of 21.” He goes on to describe such realities of daily life as the lack of dental care and the prevalence of rape. Aside from its historical significance, it may be a book that prompts us to rethink some of our assumptions about the present, that we are not progressing, for instance. We may have many problems, but we are, for example, safer than in Medieval times—unless one lives in a war zone, of course. We can’t always see progress, and yet when we look back a few centuries, we can see that however slowly and however many detours it takes, it does occur. And certainly occurs whether we are aware of it or not.