- The 40-hour work week went into effect 90 years ago at Ford Motor Company. It took a while for the rest of the country to embrace this now-standard policy.
- Antibiotics have only been around since 1928, when Fleming discovered penicillin.
- Insulin was first mass-produced in 1923.
- Electricity was still making its way into homes in the first two decades of the 20th century.
- An icebox was still much more the norm than an electric refrigerator.
- Washing machines, vacuum cleaners, and electric lights were trendy.
- The gyroscope spinning top was a wonder of modern science.
- Social Security wasn't a thing until 1935.
- The Fair Labor Standards Act is only 78 years old.
- Tea Bags were first marketed in the 1930s.
- Ball-point pens weren't common until the 1940s
I could go on and on, but that's not my point. My point is that only in the last 50 years have Americans believed that a house, electricity, heat, clean running water, a livable wage, weather-appropriate clothing, a telephone, a bank account, a car, and dozens of other items are necessities. Could you live without them? Do you believe it might ever be necessary?
There are no guarantees in this world of ours. The very planet we live on is violent and unpredictable. Humans have plenty of intelligence, but not nearly enough wisdom. Governments bend and change and collapse and re-emerge. Currencies fail. Infrastructures wear out. The electromagnetic pulse is now considered a weapon of mass destruction, and apparently every major nation has the capability to deploy it.
So as we sit sipping our Starbucks lattes and reading our Facebook feeds, it might serve us well to remember that we are living in an extravagant, luxurious bubble that will not last, and that we'll need one another, at some point, in order to survive. This might be a good time to meet that new neighbor, greet the family visiting your church, stop in at your fire station with some warm cookies.
The investments that we make in our relationships are the only investments that retain value no matter what. Our greatest necessity is one another.