If we’re going to change the world, we’re going to have to think carefully about what our future will be.
Here are the reasons why I think history is one of the problems with our world, and why it should be something we revisit if we want to change the future.
History defines our modern world
If you think about it honestly, history really defines our world. We do things because we’ve always done them. And we do them the way we’ve always done them.
There’s a great metaphor that goes: a young wife always cut off the edges of the roast before cooking it. One evening her husband asks her why she does that. She responds that that’s how her mom’s always done it.
On their next visit, the young man poses the same question to his mother-in-law. She also responds, “That’s how my mom always did it.”
Bursting with curiosity, the young man runs off to ask the grandmother why she cuts the edges of the roast off. The old lady replies, “When we first got married, I only had a very small roasting tray, and so I’d cut the edges of the meat off so that it would fit properly.”
Do you see the problem?
Honoring our past or reliving it?
So often in life, personally and at the societal level, we do things simply because that’s the way it’s always been done, and we pass that knowledge onto our children.
On the societal level we’re too determined to teach our recent history. By teaching recent history, we do maybe achieve the aim of preventing it again, but since the world is getting more violent it doesn’t seem that that’s the case. Most often though, by perpetuating a story of hatred and hardship to a younger generation that never actually experienced it, all you are doing is passing on your hate.
Basically the whole planet, with all the racism and homophobia and the million other categorizations, generalizations and judgements we have, is in one huge ongoing Redneck feud. No one knows why any of the hatred and judgement began, we just teach it to our children.
Teaching recent political history has exactly the same effect, creating feuds at national levels.
Why are we so tied to history?
Without history, and without the history we teach changing, no one could ever be immortal. Think about it.
Elvis is a pop culture sensation that passes into history. We know who Elvis is because we’ve kept him alive. I’m nearly 40 and Elvis died before I was born. I would never have known who he was if the world and people around me didn’t perpetuate the myth, if they didn’t create the legend.
In our world obsessed with money and fame, the only way that fame can continue, that your life will have mattered, is if you pass into history. But that’s not the way the world works – we die for a reason, and once our lives end, they should end and we should be allowed to pass into obscurity. That way we make space for a new generation to enjoy their moment in the sun.
We hold on too long
Because of our need to achieve immortality through history, we idolize the idea of tradition and hold onto tradition way too long.
The easiest and most obvious place to see this is in our religions, many of whom have outdated traditions and rules that no longer serve the congregation. Like is it really feasible to only have sex for the purposes of procreation and never use contraceptives?
You can glamorize and idolize the past all you want, but the truth is that if things were so great they wouldn’t have changed in the first place. The world wasn’t better back then, it was exactly the same, with exactly the same kinds of hurts and joys - just a lot less technology and luxury.
Technology is not the problem – we are
Innovation is not the problem – we are. Energy is neither good nor bad, it’s completely neutral: it’s the intention with which you apply it that determines whether it is good or evil, whether it benefits or harms.
Technology is a way that we can solve the problems we’re facing, we just have to learn to do it in a sustainable and less harmful way.
Innovation, progression and evolution are key to the survival of our species, and with a planet this overburdened, we can’t rely on nature to give us a solution quickly: now we need to create one for ourselves.
Just step back for a minute
But what does it actually matter if our species survives? Why are we so concerned with that?
Once you’re personally dead, do you really think it will matter to you what your great grandchildren are doing? If they’re alive? Again the only answer I can give you is history. If our civilization dies then all memory of us dies with it – anything we’ve done will mean nothing.
But guess what? This civilization is going to end anyway. The only place anything lives on in perpetuity is your soul.
This is why a spiritual purpose is important, and this is why a spiritual renaissance is what is needed to save us.
Only when we again know our own immortality will we stop trying to have it all in this life.