Day 314 of the Calendar Year

A “sign of the times” may be the poor attitudes of teenagers today. But wait, wasn’t that a sign of the times during the days of Socrates? We often hear this expression used to denote something that seems symbolic or emblematic of the era we are living in. “Sign of the times” is a phrase strongly associated with Roman Catholicism in the era of the Second Vatican Council. It was taken to mean that the Church should listen to, and learn from, the world around it.” (

The problem is we do not have any good reference point to compare our times to. Most of us do not have a very good knowledge of history or of what happened even a few years ago. We all tend to forget how things really were. So we think: crime is worse today, teenagers are worse today, life is harder today, etc. Then we say it’s a sign of the times. However, it could easily be a sign of many times and eras gone by. What then are the dependable and predictable signs that would allow us to say with certainty that our times are different than past times?

Very few things really emerge that make good signs of the times. Rising costs and rising taxes have been true forever. War, famine and pestilence were frequent during the days of the Pharaohs and are still with us today. Disease kills millions yearly and people do not really seem any less or more happy than in days gone by. Is life easier or more difficult? You would probably find it depended on who you asked. How then can we find a true and accurate “sign of the times?” Bottom line is you will probably not. The idea sounds good on paper but it is just too subjective. There are few signs that exist today, that could irrefutably tell you what year or even decade it was, without the value of hindsight. Twenty years from now, it will be possible to look back at today and say things about it with some certainty but the present is never certain. That is why the past cannot predict the future.

On the other hand, maybe you can think of some good signs of the times. What do you think are the signs of the time today? How would these compare to your signs twenty years ago? Do you think your signs would hold up if you went back two thousand years? Will these still be signs five or ten years from now? When do signs become obsolete?

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