Is Life Today Better Than In The Past?

If you were able to accurately evaluate life today against life one hundred years ago, one thousand years ago, or even 10 thousand years ago, would we be able to determine which is better?

Humans have a tendency to overvalue what they know. We find it easy to believe that our country is the best. Or that our mother’s cooking can’t be beat. The neighborhood we grew up in was better than any other.

Similarly, we may believe that life today is better than the way people lived in centuries past. But is that actually true?

It is certainly true that our mastery of travel makes just about every corner of the globe is accessible. I can pack a bag, catch a flight, and be halfway around the world within 24 hours. (Assuming, of course, no travel restrictions.)

A trip to an average grocery store yields a remarkable variety of produce, and an almost dizzying array of processed food. The internet makes access to information nearly ubiquitous, and allows us to communicate with people without thought to geographical limitations. Lifespans are longer, literacy rates are higher, some previously deadly diseases have been all but eliminated.

However, each of these things have downsides. Easy travel is at the expense of burning fossil fuels, which is contributing to climate change. The same can be said about produce that travels thousands of miles to those well-stocked grocery stores. And all that processed food has brought about a crisis in obesity.

While communication is easier with the internet, social media apps are making us more polarized and as such we hear each other less. What good is a longer lifespan if we use those extra hours sitting in traffic jams and overall leading more stressed lifestyles?

Are the negatives worth the positives? Is life today better than in the past?

Related questions: How have we changed? Past, present, or future? Is it fair to judge the past with morals of today? Are we too busy?

 

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.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘What are you waiting for?’ We also discuss another question as well, ‘Are science and religion compatible?’


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?

Past, Present, Or Future?

In the final week of 2018, we look to the past. On New Year’s Eve, we gather to note a single moment as one year changes to the next. Once 2019 starts, we make resolutions for the future in the coming year.

Which do you prefer: the past, the present, or the future?

Share why if you wish.