The nineteenth century saw an explosion in immigration, scientific invention and social change. The twentieth century was filled with technological breakthroughs, the complete alteration of the family structure and the creation of weapons capable of destroying all life on the planet.
For the past few months, futurists have proposed the theory that the twenty-first century will be the Information Age -- a time when knowledge and facts will become more valuable than money. I disagree. I think the next 100 years will be the Century of Love.
Stop rolling your eyes. Think about it. Religious institutions, support groups and counseling centers are all hawking the same goal -- join us and you'll no longer be alone.
That's really the worst life can throw at you, isn't it? To end up alone. I mean, sure we all enjoy a bit of solitude once in a while, but nothing beats being in love.
Tragedies become situations you can handle and learn from when you have help from someone who cares about you. Successes are made that much more enjoyable when you can share them.
Today, the Internet can help you shop in stores across the globe, send free mail and download affordable computer programs. But what are the most popular features of the online realm? Chat rooms. Instant Messages. Personal ad services.
The Internet has offered us a new way to fall in love. Using a keyboard and a modem, we can find the perfect man or woman, correspond with them, determine if he or she is right for us and then meet/marry/live happily ever after.
Granted, words in an e-mail cannot replace physical contact. And we all know that cybersex is one of the lamest forms of interaction. However, the power of words can be quite intoxicating. They can form a bond, where none might have existed.
Today, you can meet a person online, check his/her profile, share your interests, correspond about life, and then meet. You get to know who someone is on the inside without being distracted by physical appearance or peer pressure. Of course, you do have to meet the person eventually, but when you do, it's like you're already connected.
We're all looking for that one true love. With more people purchasing computers and getting online, we're using this new avenue to find that person. I personally know of three successful marriages (two with children) that spawned from online correspondences and I guarantee more will blossom in the future.
That's just the beginning. Look at marriage rates. In the last century, half of all marriages in America ended in divorce. But the remarriage rate was over 80 percent. If being married was so bad, why would any sane person want to do it again?
Answer: No one wants to be alone.
The reasons for getting married have also changed. Women no longer go to college to obtain an MRS degree. Instead, they get an education and a career. With this career, women can now support themselves. Thus, they don't have to get married to "be supported."
You certainly don't need to get married just because of pregnancy. Now the options are plentiful. Children can be avoided all together using birth control, aborted when necessary, adopted to people who cannot have children or raised in single parent households.
Gays and lesbians no longer have to hide in the closet or feel ashamed for their feelings. Interracial couples do not have to fear being shunned. Alternative lifestyles are becoming mainstream. Look at TV. Being in an alternative relationship is no longer taboo.
And I'm not just talking about "Ellen." One TV show does not alter society. But what about "NYPD Blue," "Ally McBeal," "ER," "Spin City," "Will and Grace," "Seinfeld," "Frasier," "The Practice," "Northern Exposure," "Star Trek" (any of the shows), and "LA Law." The list goes on and on. Each of these shows introduced characters or storylines of alternative lifestyles, and showed them to be simply another way to live and love.
The government has even involved itself in the area of love and marriage. With each election, the topic of gay marriage comes up. Gays in Vermont can now create "civil unions." Many states allow gays to adopt children. And though hate crimes still occur, the government is helping to lead the charge in creating laws to prevent them and punish the offenders.
And now that AIDS has developed in both homosexual and heterosexual populations, it's definitely advisable to be in a monogamous relationship. Until a cure is found, sleeping around could kill you and the people you have sex with.
With all these changes, the twenty-first century man and woman now has the ability to seek out the perfect mate and companion. You can date until the right person is found, and then marry for the best reason of all -- love.
Honesty, communication, loyalty and respect are already becoming the foundations on which long-lasting relationships are based. By incorporating these ideals into our lives, we are setting a trend that will help romance flourish and marriages to thrive.
The future is going to be shaped by our need to share the years with someone we care for, and who cares about us. Let's choose wisely and follow our hearts. It is sure to lead us to true happiness and 100 years of love.