A Sign of the Times: Are We Living in Heaven Or Hell?

Zeitgeist (1)

Zeitgeist is a German word that roughly translates to “tempo of the times or the sign of the times.”   A sign of the times may be “ tattoos” or SUV’s, or black Fridays.   I can see a list developing here.  Some of the things I associate with the “Times” today are:

  • Greed is good
  • Shop till you drop
  • He who has the most toys wins
  • Serial killers
  • Pedophiles
  • Helicopter moms
  • Sports scholarships, sports stadiums, sports salaries
  • Astronomical college tuitions
  • Non-stop news, sports and stupid sit-coms on TV
  • Misinformation, disinformation, over information
  • Increased gas prices
  • Decreased water resources
  • Global warming, climate change, swarms, tornadoes, hurricanes, fire storms and more storms
  • Casinos, lotteries, pull tabs and scratch offs
  • Ridiculous lawsuits, ridiculous litigants, and ridiculous lawyers
  • Celebrities, royal moms, TV Stars, Movie Stars and more celebrities
  • Smart phones, Facebook, LinkedIn and IPads
  • Travel leagues, T-ball, gonzo fans, gonzo coaches and gonzo parents
  • Crooked politicians, stupid politicians, partisan politicians, despicable politicians
  • Outsourcing, offshoring, insourcing, global competition
  • Designer jeans, designer dogs, designer homes, designer weddings, designer funerals, designer people
  • Aging, retiring, and dying baby-boomers
  • Non-stop Covid variants

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?  A quote attributed to Socrates holds that:

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”

Perhaps a sign of the times is the “great recession” that we are either coming out of or going back into.  Maybe a sign of the times is the “war on drugs” or maybe the increased road rage or maybe our attack on immigrants and immigration.  Maybe it is our shift to the political right and the increased influence of evangelicals and Republicans.  A sign of the times is an expression used to denote something that seems symbolic or emblematic of the era we are living in.  “Sign of the times” was a phrase strongly related to 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.” (wikipedia.org)


The problem is we do not have any good reference points 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 (for better or worse) than past times?

trumpVery few things 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 happier than in days gone by.  Is life easier or more difficult today?  You would probably notice that 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.  A hundred years from now, it may 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.

We seem to dwell on the “bad signs” but maybe you can think of some good signs of the times.  For instance, income levels are rising across the world and many diseases have now been eradicated that plagued humanity for centuries.  We should make a list of all the good signs.  I think it would probably be longer than the list of bad signs.

What do you think are the signs of the times 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 (my list and your list) still be signs five or ten years from now?  When do signs become obsolete?  Do your signs tell you that things are better or worse today?

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Margiran
    Jun 16, 2022 @ 12:27:57

    You seem to have thought of most points John, some of which have negative as well as positive connotations. Some are dependent upon the way in which we manage new ideas and innovations eg internet and social media.
    It’s so easy to look back to the past from rose coloured spectacles isn’t it? “Life was so much better then” – yet when we read up on history and facts we find the opposite.
    I think I’ve gone off topic slightly but it’s a beautiful, warm day here in the Uk and you know what they say about the combination of sun and wine. 🍷 Cheers 😊



    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Jun 16, 2022 @ 12:44:40

      I wish I were there Margery. Am I spelling your name right? We spent three weeks in the Cotsworld in a little town called Tetbury about four years ago. One of the best vacations we ever had. Lots to do, lots to see and many events we ended up being invited to. I would probably live there if I could afford to. About the past, so many people seem to live in a fixed point of time that represents their “Good Old Days.” The show Happy Days illustrated that point pretty well. John



      • Margiran
        Jun 17, 2022 @ 11:57:47

        The Cotswolds are beautiful. We spent a superb time there in 2020 for a family birthday.
        My name is Margaret Ranger – abbreviated and amalgamated at times to ‘Margiran’ 🙂



        • Dr. John Persico Jr.
          Jun 17, 2022 @ 21:27:03

          Hi Margaret, I wish I could go back someday. Did you ever get to Tetbury? That is where we stayed for three wonderful weeks. John



  2. Jane Fritz
    Jun 16, 2022 @ 20:12:48

    Lots of points here, John. Your list of negatives is sadly valid. I like the fact that you try to end on a positive note, good fellow! 😏 The sad reality of the fact of increased wealth is that the increase in wealth has gone increasingly to the already ultra wealthy while most have seen their levels stagnate for the past 20-30 years. Inequality has grown. And democracy has lost ground to autocratic rule, even in countries that consider themselves democracies. These are very troubling realities.



    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Jun 16, 2022 @ 22:56:24

      Thanks Jane. I try to be positive since I love your positivity. You have inspired me to be more positive as least some of the time. Sad about democracy. I suspect the USA will not be a democracy in 20 years or that it is even now. There are 12 thousand lobbyists in Washington, D.C. Who really owns the government? The saying about the “Golden Rule” has never been more true. He/She who has the gold makes the rules. I doubt that is a democracy.



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