Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Progress

Black Elk asked the thought-provoking question: "What is an advancing civilization advancing toward?" This topic has intrigued me as of late - the issue of Progress.

There is no doubt that through technology and progress we have made significant strides in many arenas - perhaps most importantly in health, medicine, and heralding the rights of some people groups. For example, I took my daughter in for her vaccinations yesterday and I know that the shots they gave her may very well save her life. These shots, no doubt, came about through technology. And the Civil Rights movement, through 'progress' has helped shape our world's view of equality.

And yet...

I cannot help but ask myself:

  • Where are we headed?
  • When is enough enough?
  • When will we say 'THIS IS IT!'?

Indeed, this is the fundamental error. We don't believe that we are 'enough' JUST as we are. We consider ourselves "in lack." We project salvation and perfection to some future imagined state that will never arrive. So we pave over woods and streams and build more, we work harder, the advertisers tell us that their products will fill us up so we buy more stuff to make us feel complete - and because those things can never "fill us" we start the insane cycle over again - and again -

But this got me thinking, especially in regard to last week's post about the CYCLES of life: Through all of this technology, have we progressed anywhere? Are people happier now than 500 years ago? More peaceful? Have stronger families? Less crime? Less war? Is the gap between the rich and poor growing smaller? Is there an astounding sense of fulfillment in our modern world?

The unfortunate answer is no. None of those, actually. And I'm not being cynical or judgmental, it's just FACT. And yet technology has become the Golden God that is to be sought after no matter the 'negative' effects it brings to our land, our health, our families, our lives, our world.




Put simply: You are enough. You have enough. You don't need one more thing. Try not to buy the lies of advertisements that tell you that you'll finally be happy when you have what they're selling. Why do we expect tomorrow to be better than today? - Yes, everything moves in circles. Even our progress will someday subside and return back into nothingness - let's hope by CHOICE rather than CALAMITY, though it will happen either way. Don't put so much stock in the future. Live today - this moment - like it's all you'll ever have or need. Indeed, it is.

7 comments:

kev said...

i have an upcoming post that is along the same topical lines. it's been difficult to write, because it's a very harmful subject. the point that ties into your post is a perfect fit, however. destroying nature and taking over even more land in the name of "progress" has detrimental effects that for some reason those who are in charge do not have the vision to notice.

progress to me is becoming at peace with myself and my creator, thus having nothing but love for those who show none.

Meredith said...

Right, Trev, "You are enough," with not one thing left out, and not one thing to change. And as you live in this moment, you can feel the grace within it. Progress is future oriented, possibly the unfolding of what is. But as we have discussed, in not striving, not pushing the river, we find contentment in the present moment, the eternal now. There is peace in this.
With gratitude for who you are,
M

Jon said...

A good point, Trev.

Something I've just started this new year is switching as much as possible to organic foods. It isn't easy! My new grocery store is 25 miles away from my home! All this to get food just as it was meant to be grown, without hormones, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and antibiotics.

The problem comes down very simply to greed--you can be assured a quick profit if you use every bit of the land and all available technology to grow as many crops as possible every year, instead of rotating the land. But the short-term benefits result in a long-term loss--mineral depletion, loss of quality and taste, allergies and food sensitivities, displacing traditional farmers, the rise of processed foods and obesity, etc.

The same principle carries over to everything else: workers in every industry forced to "multitask," which means cram 10 or 12 hours of work into 8, with plummeting morale and skyrocketing stress.

It all vanishes if the greed motive is replaced by a quality motive. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Intensified Zealot said...

I was just listening to a lecture on progress this morning. It was about how without a steady change there can be no progress and...then I kind of lost it. Because anyone can figure that out... I had a lot on my mind. I was listening to the lecture which before it was on progress was about love (is there love?) and God (is there a god?). I got that part but I guess I think too much. So what are we advancing toward? I think that soon we will be post modern and I think that it's hard for anyone to quite comprehend what it will be like, just like medieval persons had no idea what they were heading toward. Will it be better? Possibly. But I think there will still be lots of problems. I'm reading A New Kind of Christian and it talks a lot about that sort of thing and how Christians should be changing. By the way, my name is Christina. Hi. Nice chatting to you.

dave said...

this is a very interesting post. I have already read it several times and I am struggling with it. I don't have a problem with living in today and trying to remember that we are enough right now. I wonder where change fits in? Though we can be content with who we are and happy regardless of situation or circumstance, there is always room to grow, to learn. How do those two fit together? There is injustice in the world and we need to do something about it. I often am not patient enough or I could learn to love better. There is always growth that we need as part of our journey. The goal isn't arriving at a destination but in making the most out of the journey and just enjoying the steps. So, how do the realization that we are enough and the seeking to learn and grow fit together?

Trev Diesel said...

Dave - I completely understand where you're coming from.

The problem is that all of our progress and all of our technologies don't invite us to right the injustices or live with more love. All of our machinery and our growing cities help foster more greed and selfishness, not promote us to change the world for the better.

I believe in growth and change and in making the world a better place. My criticism was in fact exactly that: that although we put so much stock into progress and technologies, we're not really getting anywhere. Sure we have faster cars, better computers than last year, the ability to shop in places closer to our homes, have more efficient this-es and thats, but is any of that making us more loving, helping us live our life with more joy and mindfulness, or promoting justice, mercy, and compassion?

When Black Elk asked "What is an advancing civilization advancing toward?" I believe he was saying: "Why wipe out tradition, families, natural habitats, slowness, simpleness in the name of advancement or technology?"

Lastly, another way to look at this is: Is any of our technologies (except maybe in medical science) really delivering what it promises to deliver?

dave said...

Thanks for the further explanation. I agree with you completely. We see it every day that we have more technology and we spend our effort striving to protect or further that technology, instead of finding ways to further the things we actually need, like love, peace, grace, mercy, selflessness, etc. I didn't mean to come off like I was arguing that. Perhaps I was asking the wrong question, but I still have it and would be interested in your thoughts. In striving to bring change in the things that actually matter, like love and social justice for example, and in trying to go through the journey learning and growing, how do we strive and remain content in who we are at the same time? Is this a equal and opposite situation? Two sides of the coin? How do we bring the two together? Seeking to grow and change things while being content with who we are?