We live in exciting times.
Ah, that age-old saying…
Things are changing so fast.
One might argue that this is not this case, that things are not changing
Thoreau spoke of change over a century ago, and it sounded remarkably familiar; industry was on the rise; people getting more disconnected from themselves and from nature; people missing the glorious gift they have in their humanity.
We have advanced so much in the time between, yet really haven’t gone that far. The industry leaders, the government, they would have us believe that we are subject to such remarkable fortune these days; that we enjoy richer lives, better health. But when looking at the cost vs. benefit, we have gained comparatively little; a few extra years on our lives; for everything else we make trade-offs with our labour. Things have become far more efficient as well as our labour, yet the things we labour for are ever more numerous and unnecessary.
For example, when I was a child, my family did not have central heating. We had a single fire in the house, but it was enough. The answer really was very simple: If one were cold, one would simply don more clothing, or use a blanket.
We had a basic television for moving pictures and sound, and we had four channels to watch. Nowadays, televisions are the main feature of the room, measuring at least 32 inches; they are flat screen, curved with high-definition and built-in free-view. There are so many channels now, that half the time is spent trying to find something decent to watch, where previously if there were nothing of interest, one would read a book. People are too quick to just watch the ‘least rubbish’ thing.
Karl Marx, proposed that unemployment was a good thing as it was a testament to our efficiency. Note that a just over century ago, the chief industry was agriculture, and the chief employment was an agricultural labourer. Now, farming has become so efficient, only a few people are needed to operate the machines that do the work of fifty people in a day.
He was right to notice this. Why should the principle endeavour not be for everyone to work towards a unified goal, for the benefit of everybody? If people were less concerned about amassing wealth, just imagine what humanity would be capable of.
Humanity’s true achievement is that we do not exist merely to survive; we have moved beyond mere survival of the species. We are gifted to be able to survive without spending all our efforts trying to do so. Our baser instincts to mate and produce young are no longer needed, and if anything, will be our downfall.
The most remarkable thing that has changed is not our technology, how we move about the planet, how we consume information, or how we produce food — all these things have only become faster and more efficient.
The most remarkable thing is how quickly the population of this planet is growing, and how ill-equipped we all are to deal with it, not practically, but culturally and psychologically.