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Considering the violence that occurred during the previous century, can the Western ideas of science and reason be considered "progress"?

The twentieth-century witnessed the most technologically advanced nations in the world (i.e. Britain, Germany, France, Japan, and Russia) engage in two World Wars which killed millions of innocent civilians. Not only did the wars itself create unprecedented destruction, but atrocities such as the Holocaust were perpetrated by advanced, "civilized" nations. Although we have not had a major world war in seven decades, the most powerful nations in the world have created nuclear arsenals with the potential to destroy ever inhabitant on the planet. Finally, the Western lifestyle, perfectly exemplified by the United States, is warming the planet and destroying fragile natural ecosystems. Can this be considered progress?

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  • Mar 3 2013: I see war as a failure of humans to achieve higher ideals of respect, love, civility, tolerance, et al. All the above you mentioned could actually serve to force the planet to accept better relationships. If we cannot learn via discussion, negotiation and patience, we learn the hard way through awfulness of loss. This route will lead to progress because enough of humans will demand and accept more peaceful ways. A terrible price is to be paid when we refuse to accept the higher ideals and ideas for civilizing the planet. So much sorrow is evident and eventually we will see the benefits of sitting down together at the conference table to hammer agreements.

    Progress is a definite feature in evolution of thought; we either accept it peacefully and smartly or we are forced to learn in sorrow. The sorrowful way is the really scary way!!

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