Life Lessons From the 1900s That Are Still Relevant Today

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Tell the truth

Political leaders need to tell the people what they have to know instead of what they want to hear. This was one of the most important lessons of the influenza pandemic of the 1918-1919, which killed between 50 million and 100 million people worldwide (or between 200 million and 450 million people when adjusted to the global population in 2020.)

People of authority working in government and health institutions lied about the flu at the time, saying it was a regular influenza virus, even though the symptoms were more severe — including bleeding from the mouth and eyes — and the mortality rate was higher. As a result, proper public health precautions were not taken early enough, which may have prevented thousands of deaths.

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Vaccines help people live healthier lives

Vaccines help children as well as adults live healthier lives by preventing them from catching potentially deadly diseases, or by helping them better fight the disease if they catch it.

Smallpox, a deadly virus, was eradicated, and polio, a virus that causes paralysis, has been nearly wiped out. Worldwide, life expectancy at birth has increased from around 48 years in 1950 to around 70 years in 2017 — in part also thanks to vaccines.

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Everything changes

This adage was brought home frequently at the start of the 20th century, with the advent of the automobile and the invention of the airplane. These changes altered small-town life in America forever.

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Help others, but they have to help themselves

In the early 1900s, as people tried to help alcoholics overcome their addiction they’ve learned that those with an addiction ultimately have to want to help themselves. This applies today to all types of addition, be it alcohol, drugs, cigarettes or anything else.

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People we may detest are still people

It is important to remember in this hyper-polarized political world that people may disagree over issues. Other people may simply be unpleasant. But not liking a person for any reason should not degenerate into hatred.