This Thanksgiving, when you are slumped over in a rocking chair trying to sweat out your triptofin and wine, consider this: right now is the best time in all of human history.
Yes, there is a recession. I am very aware of that, preternaturally so, in fact. Yet even with our slumping economy, this century is still the most amazing (and comfortable) period in all of human history. Technologically we are transitioning to a new epoch in human history, not unlike the agricultural revolution, the invention of the printing press, or the Kama Sutra. Right now the Internet is as far along in its development as electricity was when you had to screw your washing machine into a light socket because it had yet to occur to anyone to make standard plugs. Archaeologists will literally go through your e-mails, “sexts” and asinine tweets to figure out what life was like nowadays.
On top of mind-boggling technological progress, we’re also living in the most peaceful age in all of recorded history. This seems counter-intuitive, I know. We’re constantly hearing about violent crimes on the news, and we still have troops in the Middle East. That’s still better, in fact greatly better, than the preceding eight thousand years. The War in Afghanistan is not a cakewalk, but in any prior century conflicts like these would happen every two or three weeks. You could scarcely catch your breath from getting mugged by a street leper before you’d have to mobilize against the Prussians or bury your fifth husband from a Viking raid.
This goes for pre-history, too. It’s something of a popular misconception that hunter-gatherer life is wholly peaceful and involves nothing but killing gazelles and hanging out in drum circles. That’s San Francisco. From what we know through anthropological surveys in Papa Newe Guinea, hunter-gatherer life also involves a lot of knife fights and blood vengeance and entire clans of dudes getting murdered before they can collect their social security gazelle meat pension fund (SSGMPF). For a more detailed analysis, read Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and its Clauses.
Let’s consider just some of the awesome benefits of the twenty-first century:
- Highest literacy rate in the history of mankind
- Lowest prevalence of unpleasant, stinky gingivitis
- Most actual wealth, per person, ever
- Greater rights for women (some countries are even experimenting with equal rights)
- Air conditioning
- Lowest global infant mortality rate, ever
- WE CAN FLY
- We no longer set witches on fire as standard agricultural policy
- All-time longest lifespans (average global lifespan expectancy was in the 31 as of 1912)
- Ability to communicate instantaneously to people on other side of planet if you do not use AT&T as your network
- Polio vaccines
- Birth control pills
- Battlestar Gallactica
Then why does everybody act like the world is on a rickety roller coaster plunging towards doom? Two reasons: journalists and “change.”
News doesn’t exist to inform you, it exists to sell advertising. Blood works better than hope and sunshine in this regard. Twenty-four hour global news outlets guarantee a steady supply of panic mongering and doom, not accurate or big picture appraisal.
The other thing to remember is that people do not particularly like it when life changes, and life changes, which irritates them. The world is changing a lot right now, and except for the recession, is generally improving. But that involves everybody learning new stuff and thinking differently, which pisses off most people over the age of forty.
Don’t buy into that nonsense. This is the best time in human history, and it’s only going to get better.
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