We might say the same of our own era, a time in which any number of things we’d once believed to be permanent are suddenly in flux. Politics, family, work, trade, manufacturing, money, transportation, the arts, communication, journalism, climate. The list goes on. Like the Victorians believed — mostly correctly — there is no going back. And we feel slightly lost.
Some, like John Stuart Mill, believed literature was suffering. In 1867, he wrote that it was “becoming more and more ephemeral,” and “more and more a mere reflection of the current sentiments, and has almost entirely abandoned its mission as an enlightener and improver of them.”
When we are mindful of these questions and the misalignments in our decision-making levers, some of the haze that surrounds our everyday actions can be cleared. And it is in this state of clarity that we can look natural selection in the face, thank it for bringing us into existence, but declare that we’re now ready to clean up some of the mess it’s created in the process.