Best Time Ever

There has never been a better time for humans to be alive than right now

In many countries more than half their populations — on the basis of surveys — say their country is headed in the wrong direction…whatever that is supposed to actually mean. This seemingly endless negativity is often more about narrow, poorly considered opinion than actual fact. It’s certainly reasonable that some negative assessment is justified in every country at least some of the time, but not so much in many of them. I attribute this to too many individuals being intellectually incurious and incapable of critical thinking, thus easily arriving at simplistic conclusions

Really…how bad is most of life for most people most of the time? Yes, there is injustice, unfairness, violence, poverty, intolerance and far too much religion, but overall the lives of huge numbers of individuals are fairly stable and enjoyable, even if often routine and predictable. This is the pragmatic reality. The universe and all that’s in it — including our small planet — are imperfect. Human nature can be charmingly wonderful yet incredibly perverse in many ways. Making the world a better place remains an admirable but tenuous goal that has substantial realistic limits.

Despite, or in spite, all of this, there has never been a better time for humans to be alive than right now. The overall quality of life for most people is the best ever despite all that’s deemed wrong. If change is inevitable, and it absolutely is, then what’s “right” and “wrong” is going to reflect perceptions of change in the minds of individuals, with very different conclusions depending on internal psychologies. Those most resistant to change, referred to as conservatives — political, religious, cultural, are so fixated on what they believe has gone wrong that they simply ignore all that has gone right…for the greater good and for individuals.

Those hostile to diversity, science and the growth of urban metropolises, as examples, actually make things worse for themselves and others while not actually changing reality. How else to explain the unprecedented incompetence in governance at the national and state levels in a country with more well-educated citizens of both genders than ever before. Willful ignorance, denial of reality and disdain for truth seem undiminished among the least educated and least “successful” — a term that has many meanings. Bronze age religious mythology remains the obsession of too many despite the magnitudes of intellectual evolution and advancement of Homo sapiens. Those who want to return to previous centuries seem utterly incapable of discerning why it’s both impossible and a really, really misguided goal.

The irony of the best time ever — thanks in large part to digital technology — is that innovations such as the internet represent both the ability to discover vast amounts of information, facts and data, yet also be used for fake news, the worst aspects of human nature and the dissemination of ignorance on a large scale. This theme of how positive qualities can also be used for equally negative purposes applies across the spectrum of human behaviors, endeavors and goals. We don’t get to have the former without the latter.

Education is central to human progress, which is why those most opposed to the new normal distrust and dismiss intellectuals, academics and experts. At the same time, many who yearn for the mythical past still manage to adopt the technologies of the present — pretending that progress can be chosen selectively. It cannot. Changes deemed as being positive cannot be unlinked from the unexpected or unintended changes that simultaneously ripple outward economically and culturally. Distrust by those with a “frontier mentality” regarding the 80 percent living in urban regions for not having authentic American values is nothing more than pretending they alone work hard and survive on their own. They don’t.

Those who don’t like or appreciate the best time ever — always a minority and also often rural — insist all problems could be solved by going back to the origins, the foundation, the traditions of way back when…a half century or a couple of centuries ago…or longer. But they’re lying to themselves. First, they really wouldn’t like most of what we have left behind. Second, it can’t be done, can’t happen, can’t be recreated. The circumstances of then no longer exist, and recapturing them is an illusion. Nostalgia works best when left as is.

We’ve come a long way, but we can do better. What we can’t do is make those who don’t like much about the twenty-first century to accept and embrace what has changed. We also can’t let them attempt to stop and even reverse this progress. That they managed to elect an atrocious know-nothing babbling narcissist with zero emotional intelligence as president says that complacency isn’t going to work. Resistance should be our minimum response if all those who want to benefit from the best time ever want to continue to do so.

Resistance, however, should be focused because there are so many issues needing attention. My current three are safeguarding female equality and health care rights, pushing forward on minimizing climate change and protecting those who live and work here while doing the jobs that the progeny of previous immigrants refuse to do. What are your three?