Are We Living Through History?

When reading through history books, it is easy to wonder about people who lived through historic events. Were they aware they were making history?

What did people living in the 1930s think about the Great Depression? Did they appreciate the magnitude of what was happening, or were they just trying to survive from day to day?

Did the young men fighting in the Civil War think that what they were doing would be written down and studied? Perhaps, instead, it was just what was happening in their lives at that time.

There were plenty of people who joined the Civil Rights marches in the 1960s. And there were others that opposed them. Were they speaking to future generations, or just trying to convince others to help them?

We are living through a global pandemic, political upheaval, racial unrest, and environmental catastrophe. Someday in the future, will students read about us in their textbooks? Will they learn about what happened here and now, and wonder about the people — us — that lived through it?

Are we living through history?

Related questions: What historical figure would you like to meet? What is the greatest problem facing humanity? Should we be concerned with legacy? What do we owe the future?

Will The Future Be Better Than The Present?

Occasionally, it seems like progress is presented as inevitable. The present is better than the past, and the future will be better still. But is that actually true? Will our future be better than today?

There is no doubt that we face many problems in the present day that threaten our future. From climate change, to pollution, to overpopulation, to species extinction, and on and on.

And yet, there is still hope that, even if we can’t definitively solve these problems, at least we’ll make a start. Extrapolating the advances in science and technology over the last hundred to two hundred years provides some hope.

Carbon capture may reduce the level of greenhouse gases. At the same time, cold fusion could solve the problem of plenty of cheap, clean energy being generated, enough for the world’s population.

It goes beyond science and technology. Over the last hundred years, there have been few investments more reliable than the stock market. Yes, there have been notable crashes, but the overall trend line is up. Similarly, real estate prices have been good investments historically (at least since real estate has become a thing). Why wouldn’t these areas continue going up in the days ahead?

We are also making consistent progress in other areas. Slavery was legal throughout the world just two hundred years ago. Global poverty is declining (or at least it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic). Why shouldn’t we see a future with fewer human rights violations, and more protection for minorities and those at risk?

But we have seen stretches in history where progress has stagnated or even reversed. Is a future where that comes to pass just as likely?

What do you think? Will our lives continue to improve in the future, or is society about to crash? Or somewhere in between?

Related questions: Is life today better than in the past? What do we owe the future? How do you plan for the future? Past, present, or future? What is the greatest problem facing humanity?

 

What Are You Waiting For?

Throughout this entire year, it feels like we have been waiting for something. For the virus to be vanquished. For racial justice tensions to be meaningfully addressed. Or for the presidential election to be completed.

None of those things have been completed; still we wait.

But in a larger sense, it is easy to wait for something coming juuuust around the corner. Once it happens, life can begin.

Once you graduate from high school, you can get on with your life. A romantic partner would make things complete. That raise at work will make everything worthwhile. After the kids leave the house, we can do all the tings we have wanted to get around to.

Eventually, life marches on, if you are waiting for something or not. And yet, the allure of something big just over the horizon is very appealing.

What about you? Is there something in your life that needs to complete before you can move on to the next thing? What are you waiting for?

Related questions: How can we build confidence? How do you set priorities? Now or later? What are you saving for?

Will Technology Save Us?

There are a number of problems facing our society, from climate change to civil unrest, from hyper-partisanship to a global pandemic. Many of these, and other, problems have been caused or been exacerbated through our use of technology. But can technology save us as well?

Our industrial growth has spewed greenhouse gasses into the air. Evolving news outlets and the rise of social media platforms have increased the division that already existed in our society.  International travel hastened the spread of a highly contagious and deadly disease.

If these problems have been hastened by technology, is there some hope that technology is also the potential solution?

Maybe we’ll rapidly discover and deploy a vaccine to combat the pandemic. Maybe carbon capture devices will halt or even reverse the level of greenhouse gasses. Or maybe cell phone and body cam footage will continue to make painfully clear the instances of racial bias that, in the past, might have gone unnoticed or disbelieved. ¬† The internet offers the possibility of exposing problems that must be addressed, or, in other cases connecting us, rather than dividing us.

But is it realistic to count on the very thing causing some of our problems to also be the cure? It might be that any efforts to develop a technological solution may just will only introduce new, and potentially even worse, problems. Or it could be that we need to use all the tools in our toolkit — including technology — to tackle the difficulties we currently face.

What do you think? Is tech to blame for the challenges we face? Will it offer us a way to address those them? Will technology save us?

Related questions: What new technology do you want? What skills have you lost due to technology? Is technology neutral? What role does technology play in your life? What is the greatest problem facing humanity?