Tuesday, July 7, 2009

History

In grade school, my grades in history (that we called "social studies") never were that good (not horrible, but not good either). So I would never claim to be an expert in history.

It doesn't take an expert, though, to take to heart the immortal words of George Santayana who said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

There are a lot of opinions flying around these days about the reason for the state of the economy, what the causes for climate change are, the threat to our liberty in the United States, and what influence the government, corporate interests, or common people themselves have a part. I try to listen to opinions from a variety of political leanings in an attempt to understand what is really going on. One of those sources is the crackpot commentary of Alex Jones (impossible to ignore since he hails from here in Austin). While Jones may be a lunatic in his own right, for every crackpot conspiracy theory there is always an ounce of truth and perhaps even something to be learned from it all.

The one thing I think Alex Jones has right is that we (as a society) have become very willing to give up a lot of our liberties in the name of safety and perhaps even simple complacency. Unlike Alex, I feel that there is a one word reason for what we're seeing, and that word is greed. Greed is defined in Webster's online dictionary as, "a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed." Greed on the part of the British parliament contributed to the revolution that brought about the eventual creation of The United States of America. The state of the economy and the direction we're headed is fueled by the same greed on a domestic level. Is there some kind of conspiracy for the formation of a "new world order" as Alex would say? Not really. I personally feel it is the collective, but separate, greed of many people with great influence that is driving what we see. I don't think they're out to kill everyone and take the world for themselves. I think, though, that they see common people as subservient to their wishes. It's equivalent to someone in a social organization rising to a position of authority through democratic processes, then appointing themselves as the sole decision-maker and driving, in a unilateral way, how the organization should run. In other words, a dictator. History has had many dictatorships -- some okay, many not so good.

Greed is a selfish and excessive desire for more of something than is needed. We like to blame corporations and governments for greed, but aren't these entities comprised of people? People, just like us. Looking around at common day-to-day activities, we're not any better than the government and corporate interests to which we claim superiority. Take children, for example. On Discovery Health Channel, there's a program called 18 Kids and Counting. How about Raising a Six Pack? Selfish and excessive desire for more of something than is needed. Now let's talk about our planet and its resources, pollution, and global climate change. We cannot afford to make these excessive and selfish choices if we are to be concerned for the welfare of the planet and its future inhabitants (including all of those 18+ kids).

I feel that as a world society, we're at a turning point. At times in history when people got too greedy, and that greed resulted in an exploitation of others, society got shaken-up with a profound event that caused a new age in a historical sense. We're reaching that point. I wonder how this period of time will be written in history books. We were able to see our resources dwindling and pollution from our way of life causing global climate change, but were too wrapped-up in our own self-interests to care. Our economy had a major collapse, and instead of facing the truth about what happened, we continued doing the same thing we always did thinking we'd have a different outcome the next time (yes, the definition of insanity). We created the most innovative form of communication in history (a computer-driven internetwork), but subsequently allowed government and corporate interests to control what's on it (driven by the alleged need to protect our children from objectionable material). We became increasingly technologically advanced, but couldn't shake loose the concept that supernatural beings were responsible for our coming into existence and dictating our moral code.

While we have evolved and replaced the paper and quill-pen with laptop computer, the kinds of problems we're facing are all problems that have happened before. It always seems to end with a collapse of society, a darker age, and a rebirth through a realization that we could change what was wrong and try it a different way. I can't predict what will cause the collapse, nor what will happen following it, but I do know that unless we change direction pretty soon and start becoming more enlightened, the upcoming generation may very well experience the beginning of a darker period...

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