We all have dates we need to remember, be it a doctor’s appointment, a wedding anniversary or something less painful. But there are a couple of dates that we don’t usually set reminders for. The dates we may have happened to hear during history class, depending on how well you paid attention. The dates that changed the world and its people and made it into what it is today.
The birth of William Shakespeare. The Bard of Avon. The greatest playwright and dramatist of all time. That 10-mark question in your English paper back in high school. Either you were forced to read his work for above mentioned 10-mark question, or you truly enjoyed it. Or maybe you were made to read it and later came to resonate with it. Nonetheless, the ones who are unfamiliar with Shakespeare and his works range from little to none.
His art created a culture within itself, a self-sustaining biosphere of literature and poetry that continues to thrive and inspire. It set a course for what we read and watch today. Maybe some of us never got through the first few scenes, or decided the stories were far too tragic and morbid. But so many of us would kill to feel love like Romeo and Juliet. The ever present “to be or not to be” situation in Hamlet is translated into our daily lives so often. His work is omnipresent.
Traces of Shakespeare is all around us whether we realize it or not. The words that came from this genius of a man is what kick started the English language. Phrases written by him are continually used in a modern context. Without him, it’s highly likely the English language would have been as dead as a door nail. Tons of movies are adaptations of his work (Brave New World, The Sound and the Fury, The Glimpses of the Moon and The Dogs of War). Its safe to say all the world’s a stage, and we are all merely players dancing to the tune of Shakespeare’s imagination.
The year Michael Faraday discovered electromagnetic induction and created more formulas for our physics textbooks. Jokes apart, the relation between a magnetic and electric field was a game changer in more ways than a few. Take a minute to let it sink in that EMI is nothing but the very existence of an electrical current. The little arrow we draw on our circuit diagrams is what is in question here. The very reason we even have circuit diagrams.
Electricity was finally usable, viable and practical. It wasn’t an image of Benjamin Franklin flying a kite with a key anymore. Farmers and factory workers no longer had to worry about oil lamp induced barn fires or manually milking hundreds of cows. The sweet sounds of Jimi Hendrix and his electric guitar is also courtesy of Faraday. The air conditioning, we take for granted today, is thanks to Faradays relentless quest to achieve scientific accuracy as well.
Other than changing the way the world works forever (because that wasn’t enough), Faraday was also an active participant in the education specter. He himself had no formal education, but that didn’t stop him from ensuring the creation of an enthusiastic and loving environment for everyone to learn. His personal life was not easy. Faraday worked hard and didn’t let issues like dementia and depression come in the way of him trying to make the world a better place. All in all, a real stand-up guy.
1941 and the 4 years that followed recorded instances of horrible inhumane acts. The Holocaust in Germany took the lives of over 6 million Jews. Adolf Hitler, the diabolical dictator we are all surely familiar with, orchestrated a mass “cleansing” that mainly involved gassing Jews in concentration camps. They were considered impure and not descendants of the supposedly pure Aryan race.
If you paid attention in history, you might realize that these years fall right in between the worst war the world has seen, the Second World War (1939-1945). Hitler’s obsession with world domination and the inhabitants to possess light blue eyes and perfect blonde hair, typical Aryan features, enabled the most tragic outcome of an already bloody situation. When the world looked like the first 10 minutes of “Saving Private Ryan, Hitler was focused on keeping his mustache well styled and his country Jew-free.
Blood was shed and atomic bombs used, but the careful weeding out of human beings based on features beyond their control shook the world. Even today the word Holocaust is uttered with a sense of sorrow and fear. There is no winning side in a war. Humans will easily surpass moral values and commit acts of violence in the name of patriotism. Imagine channeling the same sense of unity and power to bypass discrimination and come together as a peaceful entity. As human beings, we simply cannot allow this propaganda and hatred to take over the world ever again. Whether it’s setting unrealistic beauty standards on social media or beating up someone for simply belonging to a lower caste, human beings must not spread hate. More than 6 million Jews did not die for the world to go back to a toxic and discriminating style of life.
The Vogue issue of 1926 October had a little black dress (LBD) by Coco Chanel on the cover for the very first time. The Roaring 20s was in full swing. Our world was celebrating the end of the first world war, oblivious of the future. Women had ditched the layers and layers of restrictive clothing and corsets that had them bound for years. Forcing bodies to conform to an unnatural hourglass shape was thrown out of the window and an almost 2D, rectangular silhouette to emphasize on freedom was adopted. The drastic change in silhouette and material consumption was the direct reflection of the aftermath of the war. The zeitgeist of the times. A mirror to society that translates to our wardrobes. Traditionally unconventional idea of making something that was simple and well, black, couture was unheard of, till the Chanel stamp of approval.
Coco Chanel was the first use the material shortage and need for practicality to her favor. She introduced boxy silhouettes and minimal designs. She later changed the way we looked at the color black. It no longer meant death and mourning. Instead, it became chic, glamorous and more importantly affordable and accessible by all. Being stylish was no longer reserved for the elite.
A brand-new, fresh perspective was given to the happenings in the world thanks to masterminds like herself. Sumptuary laws putting restrictions on fabric use was not looked at as a setback, but a creative opportunity. It was a mandatory rule that led to the creation of the LBD, the most iconic piece of clothing to ever exist. We can see beautiful variations even today. Fashion is what looks adversity in its face and makes it a meaningful reminder. It is what sets a happy memory in stone. It’s the most stylish reminder of the times in our world.
Leaving the house only to come back saying I forgot my mask, was not something that happened in 2019. Even leaving the house looked unlikely at a point of time. Spending excessive amounts of time with the entire family in a confined space is also new.
Months of working from home and excessive online shopping may not sound too bad but everyone has been impacted by the global shutdown. It’s hard to imagine the entire world suddenly being brought down to its knees by a virus, and the response is to stay in your sweatpants the whole day. In fact, it looks like a meme. I’m sure you’ve seen your fair share of those since all we do is scroll through our phones. But the fact of the matter is that the world will be reeling from the effects of the pandemic for years to come.
If you have gotten this far, it is undeniable that humans are resilient beings, and we are capable of anything we put our minds to. For better or for worse. And maybe years from today, the 2020 Coronavirus will find itself featured in an article about moments that changed the course of the world. And we would love to read about how people stayed together (not physically, social distancing is pivotal) in times of difficulty. Unity, solidarity and amazing TikTok trends are what we want to see. Let us learn to be better. There’s always room for improvement.
Retrospection on events that changed the world is more than simply remembering names and dates for a history test. It is the very accumulation of events that prepare us for the future. Little lessons that play a huge role in the critical thinking of humanity. Remembering the horrors of the war, or the statement made by a simple black dress is what shapes the future.