This is likely to be somewhat of a controversial subject being that often triggers extremes of emotion and pain, brought about by past doings. Over the many years of human existence there have been numerous errors of judgment, mistakes, horrific actions and atrocities committed. Ideas such as slavery, genocide, witchcraft, systems of status, segregation, deliberate oppression, human sacrifice and alike, feature throughout history in one form or another in numerous civilizations. As the centuries ticked over, we evolved our thinking, slowly learning from our mistakes and making the necessary adjustments. Despite the development of so called civilized thinking, there were still times where the apparent progression of human evolution regressed e.g. Hitler and the persecution of Jews, African American slavery and more recently Isis. There have also been regressions such as human life expectancy, which has declined and the obesity epidemic is an issue in many developed nations. What has moved us forward as a species is the evolution of thinking and the advancement of technology stemming from the development of knowledge. This being the case, the question is- how and why do we still regress at times as a species? Considering that we should be learning from the mistakes of past and we are far more ‘advanced’ than ever before.
The Following are examples of current regressions of evolution. Each of the below areas is far too complex to unpack in a single post and the are numerous variables, but at the very least, I hope they prove to be thought provoking.
Identity Politics- Currently, there is a climate of political division, most commonly referred to as left and right politics. On the left are the liberals, denouncing the current capitalist system and oppressive structure of modern society and on the right the free market capitalist and conservative thinkers. One of the common tools used by groups with political agendas is identity politics. But why do I believe it to be regressive rather than progressive?
Identity politics utilizes the strategy of highlighting differences in order to support arguments. This is a divisive strategy. Since the time of slavery, such divisive thinking had been dying out, the past problems were starting to disappear and fade away, bit by bit. Unfortunately the pendulum has now swung too far to the other end, rather than seeing each other as individuals we are looking at the differences between us as fuel for political arguments and over-adjusting to compensate. Division is the regression here.
Obesity- I find it odd that despite our knowledge and understanding of health as well as the human body we have somehow found ourselves suffering a health epidemic, a major part of that caused by obesity. Greed for money coupled with the addictive human brain has lead to a health crisis affecting mostly developed counties. Food is no longer food, but rather resembles food and is somewhat edible, so we eat it. We know it is bad to indulge frequently in unhealthy and heavily processed food, yet we do it. We move less, make poorer choices due to time restrictions, cost and convenience and use food to feel better. Our health has regressed.
Justice for the Past- Directly related to identity politics is the desire for certain groups to get justice for past wrong doings. Again this requires the people of present to be punished in a certain sense, for the wrong doings of past societies implementing the kind of ideas, which differ greatly from those existing in the modern era. How far must we travel back to get justice for the mistakes of past civilizations, is there a rule? Do we go back 100 years, maybe 200, what if we choose to go back thousands of years to make up for the wrong doings of past. To focus on the past is to stifle progression in the present. Yes, we must learn from the past and empower those who need support, but this must not occur in such a manner that is detrimental and divisive to the population general. Consider equality for instance, wouldn’t it be better to work on improving the standards while at the same time treating all people equally rather than demonizing one group because that particular group held regressive beliefs in the past. When a child is born today, they are innocent, one day this child will be an adult, still innocent in relation to past actions of others and they should not be held accountable for past injustices. Admire the good from the past, learn from the bad and move forward as a species.
Quality of Living- Although the quality of living has improved vastly I do believe there is room for certain allowances. With the vast wealth in the world, it seems odd that there are still so many people suffering. How can it be that one person commands millions of dollars in wealth while another dies on the street with nothing. I am not advocating for socialism, but possibly the consideration of democratic socialism on a minor scale, carefully thought out policy changes which benefit those at the bottom. The capitalist model works, but like all things must evolve and adjust to meet the needs of society. Technology has also changed our lives, sometimes for the better and in many cases for worse. We have for obvious reasons decided that advancement in technology represents progress, happiness and success, but does it? We communicate far more with others but at the same time it has become impersonal, we are connected but at he same time disconnected. The system plays to those with more and pushes many out who have less. This isn’t to say that you cannot change your circumstances and destiny, but it is made all the more difficult by a system governed by those who already command vast wealth. A basic quality of living should be accessible for all and the free market restructured to help those in need who are willing to work to change their circumstances, not simply hold their hands out.
Medicine- There is no doubt whatsoever, that there have been major advances in medicine, but even medicine has been corrupted, something that defies common sense and logic. One example of this is the desperate effort to solve the obesity epidemic with pills and interventions rather than encouraging healthy eating, exercise and other lifestyle adjustments. Money is influencing medicine, particularly the pharmaceutical industry. In some countries, doctors prescribe pills like they are candy, handing them out and making a profit for doing so. Is this really for the benefit of their patients or the pharmaceutical industry. I am 100% certain, that the vast majority of people living a healthy life would seldom have to visit a doctor. We have regressed in the area due to money and through the desire to find a quick fix rather than follow the natural path to health.
Mental Health- Like obesity, depression and mental health issues have risen dramatically over the past few decades. Why? We have softened the human character by making life easy in some areas and becoming over protective of children. Life has become more competitive and complex, but humans are less resilient in general than ever before, particularly in developed countries. Nothing is ever enough for one to be happy in the modern era, constantly bombarded with images of people who have more and products you must have. Our mental health is directly connected to our quality of living. Stress has overwhelmed us in the form of allostatic load. Allostatic load is stress on the body and mind, which is beyond the ability of the individual to recover from naturally. It accumulates and eventually reaches a breaking point. This kind of stress is common in this day and age and one possible outcome is reduced mental health. There is also a theory that poor nutrition may also lead to mental health issues. Mental health issues are affecting society in a number of ways such as using up money and resources, increasing crime in some areas, higher rates of suicide and dependence on drugs to feel normal. Our mental health seems to be declining.
Influence of Money- The currency of life. We all seemingly need it, but how much is enough. For some, no amount of cash will ever be enough. Money is necessary in such a complex and heavily populated world to ensure the system has a structure of sorts, but it is the root cause of nearly all major issues in the world, along with power. Money is a subject of significant depth and for too involved to unpack in this short post. Although the purpose of money still remains, over history there are countless examples of how it has been used to buy influence. Despite our attention to law and justice in the modern era, modern still commands significant control over the people who desire more. .
Corruption- Corruption exists all over the world and no matter how hard we try to stamp it out, the influence of money and power will always corrupt. It is unfortunate that despite the advances in many areas, money prevails as an influencing factor for many. This of course means that in the pursuit of money and power, an individuals values become flexible, sometimes to the extent of being non-existent. We may not have regressed in the area of corruption in all countries, but it is an ever present and ever emerging issue, springing up in different areas all over the world, in both small and large scale examples.
Environmental Impact- In the pursuit of money the environment is at the mercy of human beings. We drain the world of resources and in most cases return those natural resources back to the environment in the form of trash. Most of the trash we send back takes years to break down, sometimes hundreds or even thousands of years. Until technology is no longer seen as the measure of human advancement, the earth we live in will continue to suffer. Unless a re-focus on family, simple values, sustainability and natural living returns, we will slowly engulf this world. From a certain point of view the ‘primitive’ people of this world could be seen as the more evolved, in the sense that they have a balanced connection to nature and focus on simple values.
Victim Mentality- Throughout the industrial era, technology didn’t exist to the extent that it does today. Human beings relied heavily on people power in the form of physical action. We went through several world wars as we all worked towards a balance and more civilized world. Intelligence and education didn’t appear to be at the forefront, as physical labour carried us through and most people were expected to conform to social norms. As the decades passed, science and technology became a major focus. We no longer needed physical strength, resilience and toughness to get by, but rather intelligence and ingenuity. The need for resilience was no longer required to the same extent, particularly in many developed nations. A softening has occurred over recent years and with it, a victim mentality. People are not taught to be competitive and to deal with adversity, instead an attempt to alter the entire system to cater to the subjective needs of individuals has been implemented. This growing weakness means that rather than work with and accept the current circumstances, the fragile generation demands that the circumstances be changed for them and the world bend to their will. Having a keen interest in psychology, I realized through my own research, that economics often determines the final outcome in many situations. This being the case, the demands of the victims will inevitably fall flat on many occasions and they will be no better off, having wasted years complaining and allowing the world to move forward without them. These kind of victims have regressed in the sense that their emotions run their thinking, constituting a trend backwards in human thought.
The above are some of the core regressions, all of which require far more attention and effort to unpack sufficiently, but at the very least, this post may serve to provoke thought and understanding of the common climate in relation to human behavior and existence.