My Dad and I have a running debate about whether there’s reason for hope these days or not. In general, not in specific. We buck all kinds of generational assumptions by him being the one who believes there’s hope, and me being the one who’s starting to think everyone’s soul would be better off not having Earth as an option anymore.
I know, I know.
But hope isn’t dead yet. Though, if I’m going to reference that post, I think one of the things that limits my capacity for hope is the simplicity of the possible solutions that humanity ignores. It’s not like solutions that improve quality of existence tenfold aren’t mind-numbingly obvious. They don’t require some revelatory genius to come down from on high and overthink through the possibilities. Most of them, in fact, are derived from lessons regularly taught to kindergarteners. Don’t hit people. Even if they hit you first. I know, there’s a whole book about this. But seriously, world leaders. Get a library card.
But something occurred to me when posting on the APDA forum the other day (though they’ve hidden all the interesting posts now, including the one I’m referencing… I guess it was only a matter of time before the future leaders of America got really uptight about their collegiate privacy), and then again this morning when I was researching melanoma (I have an itchy raised mole that’s started to twinge and hurt). We’re really in the dark ages here. I mean, yes, the dark ages were really in the dark ages, but we will seem like that to future generations.*
*-if we make it that far
The point is that we laugh and scoff and carry on about medieval humans, or the ancient cultures, or really even the 1950’s. We still haven’t paid attention in kindergarten any better than any of those people, but our advanced (if completely schizophrenic) science and super-fast transportation (that produces at least a million corpses a year as a byproduct) make us feel all superior.
If we are actually superior, it is only by the slimmest of margins. And with a full vision of history, those margins flatten to near-invisibility. Yes, the internet is a way better way of communicating than the Pony Express. But to what end? Has the bottom-line changed? We can share more information faster, but we’re still killing and maiming and ruining lives. The rich still own the poor. Most people work incredibly hard their whole lives for nothing other than to pad the coffers of some overlord, or to kill people in said overlord’s name.
So how do we get from here to there? Science still has many things completely bass-ackwards, and has lost its own ability to question itself thoroughly in becoming a new blindly-accepted religion, but it’s hard to deny that science has advanced since, say, 1352. How did that happen?
People had to (A) question their assumptions and (B) take their observations more seriously.
Science really advanced, at its core, through improvement of medicine and technology. The pressures in play were people dying and things being prohibitively inefficient. And people observed that just wishin’ and hopin’ and prayin’ for things wasn’t getting the job done. They needed applied thought and experimentation.
Experimentation. There’s a concept we could really benefit from in philosophy, politics, diplomacy. Whatever happened to the scientific method? Most international actions are justified by precedent, tradition, and principles that are universal to playground bullies. What about something different for a change? Testing various possibilities to see what a new outcome would look like? Replacing current methods of conflict resolution with, say, a best-of-seven chess series? Just to see if that reduces strife in any way.
I’m obviously getting carried away here. Even if an agreement to play chess would save a million lives, no one’s going to actually do it. That would just be crazy-talk. The macho principles of status quo leaders and words like “realism” and “realpolitik” and “real stupid” make sure that hope stays well out of reach for those who care in this world.
The overarching point is that we have all the tools we need to fix everything. They’re located between the crowns of our heads and the roofs of our mouths, and despite all evidence to the contrary, we all have them. The only thing we need on top of that is the will. The will to do something differently, to change it up, to take a leap of faith while banking on the unprecedented and almost incomprehensible ability of the human perspective to adapt and change. And the only evidence for all this faith and hope anyone should need is a history book. Look at what we can do now that we couldn’t do then. Are you really telling me we couldn’t apply that progress to improvements in peace, equality, and spiritual fulfillment?
You gotta want it. It’s our only hope.