Friday, January 05, 2007

We spend a lot of time writing, and thinking and talking about change. How we can improve our towns, our cities, our countries, our world. How we can improve, expand and build on our knowledge of the world from science and of our souls through philosophy and theology. How we can imporve our minds, body, spirit.

How do we as individuals and as societies change? I know I have undergone (through rigorous work) a lot of changes in my mind, body and spirit, but in some ways I find it impossible to change as well.

So what does change mean for us as individuals, as cultures, as societies as a world?

I think individual change is possible but what about large scale human change

What does it mean to you?

In the end, what has REALLY changed in the last 7,000 years of recorded history?

Sure, technologies have improved, life expectancy has risen, medicine has improved, new theologies and philosophies have arisen, we no longer need our spleens. But this is mere window dressing. What has really changed?

The same three elements rule human actions today that they did 7,000 years ago. Money, Power, Sex. Almost any action a person takes in their life can be traced back to the desire for one or all of these three motivators. Hell, in business its the best way to make a sale. Intuit which of the three to tap into and the customer/sucker/victim is yours.

-War? As much as I am appallled by it when it is happening, I am still fascinated by its history. From 4,000 B.C. to the present it has been a constant and I study it well.

But no amount of lessons, rhetoric or idealism ever changes the fact that it IS part of the human experience. If you think about it, in almost all cases, we measure history by the wars that are fought.

-Tribalism and the exceptionalism of groups. Has that changed? No. We still identify with the groups we are born into/indoctrinated to be a part of. Ethnic, racial, religious, city, state, country. We still believe in the exceptionalism of our group and that the great spirits are on "our side."

-The struggle for land and resources? To quote the Talking Heads "same as it ever was."

-Feelings and Emotion - Jealousy, hate, love, amusement, all the same.

Sure on the flip side their are the beautiful elements of human nature that have stayed constant as well. Charity, altruism, expression through the arts, great architecture, advances in science.

But in the end what has really changed in the last 7,000 years?

All that has changed is the window dressing, the accoutrements, the names, places, faces and decorations. It seems though that the facts of basic human existence seem to be exactly as they always were.

Is this true? Is it partly true? Are there lessons to be learned from this? Is acceptance of this fact the best course and to try and keep ones head low and succeed in surviving where and how you can?

Can the seeming lack of change be a prompt to change itself? Am I completely off base in this essay? What do you think?