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Humanity has made today the happiest, healthiest, most productive time in human existence, despite the enormous problems humanity faces.
While my idea might seem naive, I believe it is a good place to start in talking about what is ultimately an absolutely necessary topic of conversation: whether we as a species have been successful in what I believe is at the very core of our existence: improving that existence for ourselves and those who will follow after us.
I believe there is a romanticization of the "simplicity", "purity" and "naturalness" of humanity years ago before any semblance of modern society, save language, have come to be. This state of nature, especially in contrast with what seems like a newly stressful, busy and impersonal existence, seems idyllic. A time when we were not bound by responsibility, but simply by one simple goal: survival. There was a great peanuts comic that argues my point more poignantly than I ever could. It features Linus staring at Snoopy, lieing on his house, telling him:
“I envy you, Snoopy…You don’t have to worry about anything!” Exasperated, Linus exclaims, “You don’t have to worry about the future of the world or about inflation or anything!” Perched on his dog house, Snoopy ponders for a moment and replies, “I wonder where my next meal is coming from.”
I do not intend to misstate my case, environmental catastrophe, widespread poverty and death from preventable causes, war, nuclear weaponry, inequity, and simple hate and intolerance present terrifying threats to what we have as a species created. However, despite these concerns, never in human existence has humanity lived such long, healthy, creative and productive lives.
Has our departure from "nature" made our society "unnatural"? Is that a bad thing? Are we indeed faced with more time to be creative, and has it lead to us being more "productive"? Does life, health and opportunity equate to a higher level of general happiness?