Nearly every day, we are struck with news of people doing nasty enough things that we feel like we just might need to re-envision what we think human nature is. From efforts to shut out the truth in Florida, to Putin’s use of prisoners for army fodder, to the now vividly told stories of murder in real crime drama, we might feel like we need to lower the bar so to speak, for just how sick and dastardly we can be.
Humans are capable of the horrendous. Always have been, always will be. I don’t want to, or feel the need to, make a list of the awful things that challenge our imaginations about what we can be.
I will plead no contest to anyone who might feel the need to stop reading the following lists of examples of the predictably amazing things we in the collective have accomplished over the last hundred years to say, ‘oh yeah, but what about this, and feel compelled to insert the latest terrible invention or act here.
Living here at the edge of the new millennium we must remember that we now more than ever rarely miss news of what the worst of us are up to, or have done. However, as we begin to look forward, please remember this … living here in the third decade of the new millennium we forget two things that don’t generally warrant headlines, and for that reason need remembering.
The first being that most people, although far from perfect are normal, just, and decent with a basically cooperative instinct. Let’s pause for a minute and think about that. Most people, although hardly perfect, are more good than bad.
It is a fact that most people love their kids, pay their taxes, obey the laws, and mostly keep their cars on the correct side of the road. Mostly…. Mostly….. Mostly…. people have enough goodwill in their hearts to not do the wrong thing very often, or never do very bad things.
And, two, we as a species are on an amazing journey, and capable of if not nearly anything, a lot. After any dose of bad and bloody news lest you need some heartening, remember…
In roughly the last hundred years, we have - in no particular order - or order of importance: Taught ourselves to drive,
Taught ourselves to talk with each other around the world.
Taught ourselves to fly around the globe.
Hell, taught ourselves how to fly off the globe.
We have taught ourselves how to see millions of miles back into space. We have taught ourselves how to see millions of years back into time. Sure, that’s technological developments. Sure, but…while we were developing computers and the space shuttle...
We have crept closer, pretty quickly to seeing all people of all colors and genders as equals. We have radically increased literacy rates, improved the rights and opportunities for women, come a long way to identifying that people have childhoods, extended the lifespan and the quality of life for nearly everyone on the globe.
We have provided quality health care, if not enough, for more and more people. We are creeping closer to seeing the inherent dignity in all sexual preferences and identities. Over the last 50 years we have been teaching ourselves that we need renewable energy sources
and systems, and steadily increasing their implementation. Don’t lose faith.
Don’t lose the deep truth that, although the world can be made a horrible place by the acts of a few sick souls, imperfectly and incrementally, the real moral majority of us imperfect decent people are making the world a better and safer place.
Sure there is plenty of work to do. From building a commitment to a society rooted in equity, and love, to getting rapid fire guns out of the hands of everyone, to even reigning in the worst of us.
But, as I am a want to remind you maybe more than you like, in the grand scorecard of history, progress and goodness are winning. And it is important that all of us individually and collectively don’t fret enough to do your part in creating a future that looks a little bit more beloved every day.