Our Future Path!    A plan for a better world!

Historical Perspective (a Foundation)


Introduction

Advances in agriculture, medicine, construction, transportation, technology and many other areas have solved many of the problems that our ancestors faced and have led to the creation of our great modern civilization. We now have a better and more abundant selection of food, longer and healthier lives, better homes, and far more choices of employment, entertainment and lifestyle than our ancestors ever dreamed of.

Unfortunately, our advances have often come with a high price tag. Someone only needs to study human history to see that our modern civilization is far more complex than any past civilization, has more difficult problems than our ancestors may have been able to imagine, and, due to our overpopulation and our dependence on nonrenewable energy, it is not sustainable.

To help support our modern technological lifestyles, we now have more complex laws, rules, regulations, licensing requirements, and tax codes than at any other time in human history. In addition, there are more choices that need to be made about where and how to live, and more things that need to be learned in order to prosper or even to survive in our modern society.

Technology is becoming prevalent in almost every aspect of our lives. In some cases, it has taken over mundane tasks in order to make our lives easier, but in other cases we have been overwhelmed with so many new options and features that we cannot possibly learn them all. In addition, we are consuming our natural resources and destroying our environment at a rate that is both unprecedented and unsustainable.

As time goes by, we seem to be solving some of our existing problems and to be reducing the impact of others, but many other problems are persisting and even getting worse, and new problems are cropping up all the time. In fact, some of the actions that we are currently taking to try to solve our problems are themselves adding more complexity to our lives and are causing or will cause even more problems.

For instance, with longer lives, more people are experiencing more old age related illnesses and more overcrowding. With more technology, there is more demand for our limited energy supplies and other natural resources, more pollution and destruction of our environment, and increased ways in which we can become victims of crime. With better transportation and communication, and larger populations, there has been more globalization, which has led to more demand for and destruction of our resources, more conflict, war and terror, easier spread of diseases, and a larger gap between the rich and the poor.

Civilization

Our world’s history has many examples of the rise and fall of great civilizations. During their rise, the leaders and citizens of each of these great civilizations were able to overcome many problems in order to create a better life for their people. Unfortunately, in each and every case, their rise resulted in the creation of new problems, which they were unable to solve fast enough to prevent their fall.

In some cases, a civilization’s fall was the result of external forces like floods, draughts, or invasion by foreign armies. In other cases, the fall was a result of some internal strife that tore the civilization apart. Nevertheless, in all cases, the citizens of these civilizations were not able to solve the problems that eventually led to their fall. In most of these cases, people simply had not anticipated nor planned ahead for the things that happened.

Will our modern civilization be able to continue or will it fall like all of the past great civilizations? By looking at our current problems and comparing the history of our civilization with those of the past, it looks to me like we could be headed towards a similar fall. A big difference is the fact that we have risen so far and used up so much or our world’s resources that our fall could be much worse. In fact, we have used up so much of the world’s nonrenewable resources, that it would be very difficult for any future new civilization to rise from scratch to the level that ours has.

On the other hand, we have an advantage over those past civilizations in that we now know and understand more about our world and our past than at any other time in history. We just need to decide whether or not we will use that knowledge to find a path that will take us into a future where we can solve our problems and create a new civilization that is both great and sustainable. The first step may be as simple as admitting that our civilization is in trouble and that we must recreate it in order to save it.

Our Past

Before we can truly decide what we want our future civilization to look like, we should first understand ourselves a little better. To do this, we need to look at the latest and best evidence and theories about where we have come from, and compare this with where we are today.

It took millions of years for humans to develop into our current form. During most of that time we lived in small tribal groups as hunters and gatherers. Our short lives were mostly devoted to finding enough food, avoiding being eaten by predators, and reproducing. Our anatomy, metabolism, and temperament became adapted to our hunter/gatherer lifestyles.

It has only been in the last few thousand years that most of us have turned to a more settled agricultural lifestyle, and settled into larger communities. It has only been in the last few hundred years that many of us have turned more towards craft, trade, industrial, information and service jobs, and settled into large cities. Our new industrial and technological age is not even a hundred years old yet.

Of course, our large brains have allowed us to handle most of these changes and to adjust our lifestyles enough to survive in most new environments. Unfortunately, adjusting is not the same thing as adapting, which leaves many of us living lives that are far from being optimal for us physiologically or psychologically.

Many of our first customs and traditions came about as ways to help us get along with and to bond with our family and our tribe, which helped us to compete with animals that were faster or stronger than we were, and with other tribes. Change was usually slow and the same customs and traditions served many new generations just as well as they had served their ancestors.

As we developed agriculture, moved into more urban settings and invented new tools, life became better, but society became more complex. We had to develop new and updated customs and traditions to surmount the new challenges. Interestingly, different groups often came up with quite different customs and traditions that helped each to surmount similar challenges will similar amounts of success.

In our recent past, the rate of change has sometimes been staggering and each generation has faced many new challenges. Therefore, the customs and traditions of even our most recent ancestors do not always serve us as well as they did them, so we have needed to constantly develop new and updated ones. On the other hand, some people have wanted to keep their customs and traditions just as they were and have therefore resisted change. In order to handle the realities of our modern life and its constant change effectively, we must develop customs and traditions that are flexible enough to serve us better today and in our future.

As we proceed with looking at our present and future paths, we will need to keep looking back at our past in order to shed light on how we got where we are today, why we now do the things we do, and to help us in developing the philosophy, guidelines and ideas that will help us in mapping out a plan for a better future.

Our Present

Few people now live as our ancestors did. Today, most people live longer lives without the fear of going hungry or being eaten by a predator. On the other hand, we have created a whole new set of challenges to deal with. Of course, our brains have allowed us to adjust somewhat to our new way of life, but, unfortunately, physiologically and psychologically we have not had enough time to adapt.

For instance, many of us now live a more sedentary life with an abundance of food, which has led to a growing problem with obesity. It may take many generations before our metabolisms and appetites have the chance to adapt to our new lifestyles and food supply. That is, if we do not short-circuit our evolution by coming up with a diet pill that will mask the problem.

Another major change in our lifestyles has been the transition from tribal and extended families to individuals and nuclear families. The major drive behind this change has been the development of cheap energy. At first, this drew people away from their small towns and families into the cities in search of better paying factory and office jobs. Then, with better cars and roads, people headed towards the suburbs in search of a place to live in safer neighborhoods with cleaner air and some green space.

With this shift in lifestyles, our lives are now more dependent on strangers, the state and machines. Physiologically and psychologically we are still best adapted to a life in a small tribal group with our extended family close by. As a result, more people suffer from more stress and loneliness today than most of our ancestors ever did, in spite of, or maybe because of, the fact that we are now surrounded by more people.

Even if we could completely adapt physiologically and psychologically to our current lifestyles, we would still have a major problem. Our current lifestyles are using up our resources at a faster rate than they can be replaced, and are causing the destruction of natural habitats and the extinction of numerous species of plants and animals. Today, the greatest threat facing us, and all life on our planet, is the human race itself.

One possible analogy to our current lifestyle may be to think of it as sky diving. Sky diving can be fun and exciting, but at some point, before it is too late, one must open the parachute or everything will come to an abrupt and destructive end. Of course, opening the parachute just delays and softens the end. Instead of sky diving, we may need to think more about our lifestyles in terms of gliding or parasailing. It may not give everyone the same rush as sky diving, but the fun can be sustained for a longer time so that future generations can continue to enjoy the ride.

Our Future

Planning our future is like planning a trip. Before we can start any trip, it is a very good idea to decide where we want to go. Of course, different people may have very different ideas about what they want to do on their trips and how much they are willing to spend. This is why a wide variety of travel destinations has evolved to cater to a wide variety of interests and budgets.

Of course, if we did not have to worry about the cost, most of us would want to take a trip to paradise. Even so, when we talk about going to paradise, many people may have very different ideas about where that would be.

Even though a number of different destinations may seem like paradise to many people, not one of these destinations is likely to be considered a paradise by everyone. I would even bet that there are some people who would not like an often talked about paradise like Fiji.

For our future, we need to describe what that future would be like. For instance, we might like it to be a utopia, but as with a paradise, people may have very different ideas about what they would consider a utopia. All people do have some basic things that they would want. For instance, almost everyone probably wants clean air and water, healthy and nutritious food, good clothing and safe shelter. Beyond these basics, most people also may want friends, freedoms and some purpose in their lives. The importance of each of these and many other things may vary from person to person, and different people may have very different ideas about what they want.

Therefore, any possible utopia would need to be flexible enough to meet a wide variety of wants and desires. For instance, in any large enough sampling, you will have people who like city living, people who love the suburbs, and people who want to live in a small town. You have people who like working in an office, people that want to work outdoors, people who love working out of their homes, and people who enjoy business travel. You also have people who like the convenience of apartment or condo living, people who want a home with a backyard, and people who love living on a farm.

As we can see, one of the most desirable features of any utopian future would need to be that everyone would have some choice as to where and how they could live their lives. So, when we talk about a utopian future, we must keep in mind that it must be able to allow for very different ideas of where and how each one of us wants to live our lives. Unfortunately, this may be easier said than done, since we must also remember that we need to create this utopia within the constraints of our world’s limited resources and the way one person lives his or her life can impact the way others can live theirs. Nevertheless, we can provide everyone with an equal opportunity to live their lives the way they desire.

Next Section

Life - Some facts of Life to keep in mind on Our Future Path.

Last Updated:
Sunday, November 26, 2017
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