On November 11, 2020 it was 102 years ago that World War I ended in Armistice.
That seems a long time ago, but when broken down into generations, my parents' generation was born at the end of World War I, and I was born seven years after World War II ended, my children in the 70s and 80s and my grandchildren in the late 2010s, the youngest a few months ago.
My grandfather, who I knew as a child, was born in 1880; eight years after the New Zealand Wars petered out, when Queen Victoria was still in her heyday on the throne.
My great grandfather was born about the time of the Treaty of Waitangi and fought in the New Zealand Wars along with another great grandfather as young Englishmen fresh to these shores.
He fought against his future daughter-in-law's people in the Taranaki Campaign. I have mentioned just six generations spanning from 1840 to 2020, 180 years, but a flicker in time.
My daughter, who was born in the mid-1970s, knew her Māori great-grandmother who was a child in the 1890s, before the broad introduction of the motor car, electric light, telephones and antibiotics, lucky to actually survive to adulthood at a time when most Māori girls died before 5 years of age and the Māori population was down to 37,000 out of a general population of 650,000.
My daughter is young enough to maybe undertake space travel one day.
In just a few generations we have moved from the Industrial Age when mankind first began moving away from continual heavy, life-shortening manual labour towards steam-driven machines of industry and agriculture, changing the face of Western civilisation forever, and then to the Space Age where space travel for those with the money is not far away.
When there are a few people still alive today who knew the early white and Asian settlers of this country or the Māori of the mid-19th century, one realises that our history is indeed very short and our touch with these old people still fresh.
When looking at old photographs, seeing the fashions, the lifestyles, the ruggedness of both our forebears and their surroundings, we realise how far we have progressed in such a short time.
We still see family resemblance in the faces of mid-19th century photographs, showing that while new generations arrive we still look like many of those who came before, usually taller and bigger thanks to our modern diet and the move away from heavy physical labour required for most to make a living in Victorian New Zealand.
We are no different to them. We probably speak a slightly different accent, are more than likely much better educated, will likely live longer than most born in the 19th and early 20th century but their blood still flows in our veins.
A significant proportion of my children's and grandchildren's generations could reach 100 years of age, a rarity back in the 19th century, but becoming more common now.
Their breadth of history will be possibly more personal than what has come before because they will simply be around for so long, some having met and known people born in the 19th century.
So when we talk of our history and the customs and practices that were common even 180 years ago, we should remember that we are not very far removed from those people, some of whom we fashionably condemn for their views and deeds.
We should realise that perhaps deep inside many of us those attitudes and ideas still simmer, waiting for the right time to surface.
Our civilisation is just a veneer. Underneath, which we are still base creatures capable of mindless violence, racism and bigotry.
If you find this concept doubtful or disturbing, cast your minds back to the 1981 Springbok rugby tour of New Zealand, the speed with which our society descended into violence, mayhem and the simple hatred of another's point of view, therefore of that person.
We went from peaceful protest to riots in a couple of weeks over another country's politics and a game of rugby, not long for the beast to re-emerge in many of us.
Sadly we are seeing this play out in America at present. That supposed paragon of Western Civilisation and Exceptionalism is facing its biggest challenges since World War II.
Some parts of American society seem to be breaking down and it has not taken long for this to happen thanks to a president who chose to polarise rather than unite his people.
When we regard others as different because of race, religion, class or just plain looks, we are allowing those base instincts polite modern society demands we suppress to sneak out for a wee while.
We all need to really remember that just now.