One of the interesting bits I’ve discovered as a member of the Living History Worldwide community, is there seems to be a split between those folks who enjoy and attend closed reenactment events (those events where the public is not invited, and the whole thing is in time-period the whole time) and those who more enjoy public events where they teach the public as well as interact with fellow reenactors. Now this is not a very strict rule, I like a few closed events, and there are certainly folks who might do mostly closed events that will enjoy a big public gathering every once in a while. We are human and thus infinitely shaded in our opinions.
But based on my very wide stereotyping I have made some observations (very unscientific observations, I promise.) I have noticed that folks who seem to mostly do closed events are far more likely to express the opinion that they would like to back in time, that they would feel more comfortable living in a different era than the one we’re stuck in. CNN did a whole story based on folks who would rather live in a different time (thanks Julie.)
I am not one of those types. I like the era that I live in as much as I would any other. I think I’d find just as much to complain about if not more in any other era. I like modern sanitation and medicine, the internet, my car, and my ability to marry a person of the same sex if I so choose. I’m not saying we’re perfect, there is still plenty to complain about and to work towards! I’ve thought about it. I entertain the notion all the time, what would it be like to go back in time to live in the 1400s, the 1600s the 1900s; I do not have a great desire to find out.
Now, I love to know more about the past, I love to learn by putting on the clothes, and doing the tasks. While most people have heard the saying about being doomed to make the mistakes of the past if we do not learn from them, it is practically my religion to be mindful of the past. Being mindful of the past is what I strive for every day, and teaching history to others is part of that creed. Wile I can have fun at a closed event, a lot of that is based on the assumption that at least the participants are learning from the event even if the wider public is not.
Is this a fundamental dichotomy? Do all people who prefer closed events want to live in the past, and are all people who prefer public events content living in the present? I doubt it, just like I doubt that all Republicans would never hold a liberal view, and that all Democrats must be opposed to conservatism. But might this breach in the reenacting world mark us as separate camps, separate parties? I hope not, but I wonder.