eclipsing progress


they believe in a mythical thing called Progress, a power that shapes human fortunes, but which simply does not exist (at least, not as they imagine it.) Things do not get better by the simple passage of time, and the arrangements of the past are not necessarily worse (or better) than the arrangements of today. dpmonahan

People who talk this way have no concept of history. I believe in Progress. I think it is a power that shapes human fortunes. Things more often than not get better by the simple passage of time, and arrangements of today are generally better than the arrangements of the past.

Why? Because humans thrive on knowledge and understanding. We are inquisitive creatures with a prominent streak of empathy that ensures we strive to improve conditions for ourselves, for our children and for future generations. We have developed advanced methods of recording, cataloging and sharing our knowledge, which allow us to continue to build on the work of past generations. We learn the lessons of failure and tragedy from those who have gone before us and from those who live around us.

When it comes to the quote above, only a rich, white man in the western world could spout such nonsense. You ask any woman, anyone from an ethnic minority or any person born into a low income family if they’d rather live now or 30 years ago, 100 years ago or a 1000 years ago, and if they have any concept of history, they’ll understand the huge strides that have been made for our rights – strides of progress that ensure our living conditions have improved a hundredfold. And that’s before we even talk about progress in education, healthcare, technology, welfare, travel, working conditions and every other aspect of life for humans.

I believe in Progress. And I can only hope we continue to progress and don’t get dragged back to the bad old days when marital rape wasn’t a crime (the 1980s), when women weren’t entitled to equal pay (the 1970s), when homosexual acts were illegal (the 1960s), when abortion was a back-alley bloodfest (1950s), when there was no universal healthcare (1940s). We may stumble along the way but hopefully our innate human desire for progress will ensure we don’t fall.