The modern world today
One thing you can say about humanity is we have always lived in the modern world. Whatever we had whether it was a beautiful home with air conditioning and plush furniture, or a cave in the forest where we crouched from bears, it has always been the best the modern world has had to offer.
When Columbus crossed the Atlantic in the Santa Maria, it was the best the modern world of his day had to offer. Mankind has always felt that he lived in the modern world, although he may not have used that term, because he usually never expected that it would change for the better. They truly thought that things had always been the way they were.
Galileo (1564-1642), an important scientist of his time, was imprisoned, simply because he questioned the theories about planetary systems which those in the modern world of the day took as true. Today we still believe that we have reached the pinnacle of human knowledge. Compared to past generations I feel blessed to have spent my life in the grandeur of human accomplishment to date. My 91 years so far, have seen more growth in human knowledge that in any comparable period of the past. I was born in the same year that Charles Lindbergh made the first flight across the Atlantic in the Spirit of St. Louis. Yet, I believe the best is yet to come, but it shall not be easy. The politicians of the world have always been short sighted. Whether kings, dictators, or czars they have generally been more interested in their own power, and preserving it, than in making progress in the life of mankind. The scientists and inventors have given us most of what we have called progress.
I believe we have gained a great portion of what there is to discover in the material world. There is however one area which we have made less advancement than in any other, and I believe and hope it will gain more attention than it has in the past.
Each of us has been given a very limited time on earth. Usually anywhere from 60 to about perhaps 100 years if you are unusually lucky. How lucky you are all depends on how aware you may happen to be of the world around you as you approach 100. We all realize that we have a relatively short time on earth, and we try to make the most of it. Some of us are really quite altruistic while others want to taste it all.
I am reminded of a song sang years ago by Howard Keel in a movie with Katherine Grayson “The Taming of the Shrew.” “I want what I want when I want it. That’s all that makes life worth the while. Though the wine that tonight, fills my soul with delight, on the morrow may seem to me vile. There’s no earthly treasure myself I deny, and no one to tell me the where or the why. I eat when I’m hungry, and drink when I’m dry. I want what I want when I want it.” There are many I’m sure who actually try to live by those words, whether or not they turn out disappointing. I’m sure they most often do.
I think we are at a great turning point in the sojourn of man on earth. Only in recent years have we made any attempts to study what makes man tick. Our scientist types have tried to maintain their usual principle of staying out of religious themes. Psychologists and psychiatrists have been our most recent guides in this area, but our philosophers may get more to say as time goes on.
I would suggest that the greatest achievement we might gain which could lead to forever, would be if all of humanity could somehow gain a true respect for all of humanity. Whether we all know it or not, we all need each other.
We have been fighting for domination throughout history. We could, with a bit of cooperation, make the world become a heaven on earth. Our enemies are not other people, but only ignorant ideas.
Richard Westlund is a Collins resident.