07 November 2009

Plus ca change

My son has been learning about the Gunpowder Plot at school this week. Being a serious-minded 7-year-old, he is getting to grips with the meaning behind the pretty fireworks of bonfire night. One exercise in particular asked him to think about some differences between the present day and the early 17th century.

So we discussed differences, trying to get beyond the superficiality of technology and creature comforts to what a different place the world was then. Of course I was able to reassure him that, these days, there was no chance of religious fundamentalists conspiring to blow up a British head of state or parliament in an attempt to reestablish a theocracy, funded by an overseas religious group claiming divine approval, or the government reacting by sanctioning the use of torture to extract confessions from those presumed guilty because of a common faith. Because that would be as though the enlightenment had never happened.

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