Progressing backward

March 1st, 2012

There is the constant impression that everything we do should be improved upon. In fact, progress seems to be an innate part of the human condition.

Day in and day out, we, as students, are generally working on improving our knowledge or abilities on a given subject. In turn, our grades will improve. That will improve our transcripts and resumes. Our chances of getting a good job will improve and, once that job has been obtained, the pay will increase and so will our freedom and security to buy whatever we want. This job might even give us opportunity to do something great for the world. Once we have been established we will then procreate and give our spawn the same opportunities to progress.

To assume that humans have the absolute power to infinitely improve every condition of the world is an arrogant claim. Not only that, but we give our species an omniscience that gives us the ability to know what needs improved upon and how to improve it.

For about 10,000 years, humans have lived by these assumed capabilities. While we have made the ways of life less rigorous for the developed world, humanity has failed to realize that we don’t actually have these powers of omniscience. Consequently, we have progressed down a path that has given us more problems than it has solved. Furthermore, the most influential, powerful people of the past and today have and continue to fail to realize this. We are so blinded by progress, that we don’t see that it’s actually pulling us backward.

For example, the horseless carriage seemed to be a great invention at first. It made transportation easier and faster. Over the years it has led to the destruction of the Earth, the draining of its resources and a society dominated by obesity.

The agricultural revolution made obtaining food in great quantities much more consistent and reliable. The idea of agriculture seemed so good that it was imposed it upon people living in places where agriculture is not practical. By trying to develop those societies inequality, violence and suffering have increased.

Now that the world’s population is at an absurdly high level, the quantity of food that can be grown naturally is not enough. Major corporations like Monsanto create genetically modified organisms that are larger and more resilient, equalling more food. Yet, the long term effects of the consumption  of some GMOs has not been tested and could be very harmful.

The Internet brings the entire world to our finger tips and we can learn about the most advanced ideas across the world. Yet, indigenous cultures that have knowledge about their environments that have been gained over thousands of years are being drowned in modernization and the environments are being destroyed. These “primitive” people, who have more knowledge than our most advanced ecologists, are being eliminated along with their oral traditions.

The way of life that has been developing for the past 10,000 years has brought us to a very delicate state. Continuing to mine the world’s natural resources, all the while destroying the very earth that all known life has depending on for hundreds of millions of years is both unethical and not sustainable. Fossil fuels are not necessary for survival of any species, including our own. However, organisms are absolutely necessary for the continuation of life. By destroying the forests, we are only accelerating the process of our own demise.

Though it appears that we live in a more intelligent society, over the past few hundred years, human brains have been shrinking. Though it is unsure what the cause is, some scientists think that our “civilized” diet is deficient in nutrients. Others claim that we’ve domesticated ourselves, which has shown to cause brain shrinkage in domesticated generations of foxes. When we lived in the wild, we needed to be smarter to survive. We’ve eliminated human evolution and inferior genes spread into the next generations.

By attempting to change the conditions of the world, we’ve messed it up more. We’ve denied our true nature and pretended to be something we aren’t. This lie has brought along an influx of even more lies. Most of us have bought into the great lie that how we are living is good for us and there has never possibly been a better way.

Our progress has now encountered the law of diminishing returns. What happens next is up to us. We are at our own mercy.