According to every geological measure, modern human life is a tiny jolt, a steady spark on a very long time record.
As long as life existed on earth, there were no humans. And when there were animals like humans, they spent more of their time doing nothing more. Nomads eat, roam and hang out when needed. It’s not an easy life, but there’s nothing in the modern confusion or problems that urban culture presents.
Cereals are starting to change things, because agriculture produces a lot more calories per acre, which allows the population to grow … and saves the results of our labor. Accumulated grain, however, is easier to steal and tax than anything that must be eaten or cut fresh from the tree.
And so you can get markets, wars and governments and the rise of a group of people who are richer than any person can be a farmer or a nomad.
All of this is mostly irrelevant. It is irrelevant to understand how Edison made movies or sound recordings. It’s good to know history, but it doesn’t help you win an Oscar or a Grammy.
The two most relevant forces are in a strong dance right now:
বৃদ্ধি Increasing the carbon-fuel of the industry.
বৃদ্ধি Increase information-stimulation of ideas and connections.
Art Earth’s appearance from space has changed, it has enriched billions of people, and it has pushed our species to the brink of extinction due to our influence on the climate. It is often based on caste and coercion and has created both opportunities and problems.
Connection The culture has been able to enrich, and in recent years, spread by the noise of the Internet, it has made many people miserable in the short term.
As we slouch through another long, challenging year in which these two energy conflicts, expand and intertwine, I remember what Theodore Parker said more than 150 years ago:
I don’t pretend to understand the moral universe, the pressure is a long one, reaching my eyes but a little way. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by visual experience; I can make it divine by conscience. But from what I see, I am convinced that it is leaning towards justice.
We didn’t really like it much yesterday. Here we are, many of us just a hundred years ago with far more privileges and powers than any other human being on earth.
In the last few decades, the field of culture has advanced so much that the defenders of the status quo are tired of trying to defend what it was. And they sometimes express that fatigue through anger, division and vitriol.
The good news is that we have everything we need to make things better. If enough of us stands and leads and connects, we will continue to move as close as possible.
There is peace of mind and possibilities here. They go together.