Happy Tuesday, the most productive day of the week. Ironically, also the day I have the least amount of time to write on my blog. Anyways, I wanted to talk briefly about progress. Specifically, I read a chapter on progress for a class recently that changed how I thought about it. Progress is typically thought of historically as a good thing. If we are always moving forwards, we are always progressing to a higher plane of existence. This implies better lives, happier people, less work, and so on. Except that’s not where we are.
Let’s look at the United States as an example. To use Bernie Sanders’ rhetoric, people are working longer hours for less pay. And yet, no doubt, people will say things today are better than they were 100 year ago. Sure, this is true in many ways for race, sex, and so on, that things are “better,” but in doing so people have been…I don’t know, silenced? It’s almost like because things are somewhat better we are expected to shut up and be happy about it. If you were being tortured 5 days a week, and then a few months later they dropped your torture time down to 3 days a week, should you be happy? No! You’re still being tortured! Obviously this is a bit of an unfair analogy to make, but work regulations have been a pretty massive problem in our society for far too long. People complain about unions being unnecessary, but these are the same people who used to believe that it was ok to put children through 12 hour work days (I mean, maybe not literally, but they are their spiritual successors).
Ok, well let’s just say that unions are not perfect, but they are important to employer-employee discussions, since that’s a whole barrel of another topic. Progress, as it is currently thought about, may not be progress in reality. In creating a “better” system for humankind, we have also decimated our ecosystem. This reading I mentioned earlier, titled Lies My Teacher Told Me, written by James W. Loewen, presents the position that our so-called great, developed country is actually keeping other countries from “developing” in the same way. This is because, the way we waste energy and resources compared to other countries is insane. If every country on Earth were like this, the planet would become a desert wasteland. Which nobody wants to live in.
So how do we fix this? Well, short answer is that we have to put regulations in. But in terms of the problem with “progress,” we have to think more about the negative effects of our work, rather than just focusing on the positives. That’s how we end up with damaged ozone layers and deforestation problems. That’s how we end up with The Great Barrier Reef being declared dead (though just a portion of it is, there’s still time to save it if we work hard). We need to be more considerate. What do you think? Is that unreasonable to do?