The past is rife with the record humanity's clawing its way up the ladder of development, from simple wanderers, to farmers, to townsfolk, to city dwellers, to citizens of nations and empires. All along the path, cultures, traditions, languages, and religions were established, each scratching out an existence within the human milieu. These patterns, these delimiters, provided both an impetus for the growth of humanity and a handbrake on the true growth of humanity's soul. Where belonging to any of these groups was made an imperative, eventually conflict arose, and where more than one was at play, intrigues and insurrections brought down many a “civilized” society.
Our growth is retarded only by the dead weight of the past that we carry forward with us. Rather than taking the lessons of the past, using them to inform the present, to pave the way for the future, we stubbornly carry along the whole rickety architecture of previous centuries, as if it were some precious gift, rather than the rusted anchor it is. We have much we can learn from the recorded events of our history, many lessons we can take from what came before, but if we insist on holding on to the letter of them, instead of the spirit, we doom ourselves to remaking the same ineffectual and damaging mistakes we made before.
Fear, loathing, segregation, war, poverty, disease – these should all issues we reflect on merely for their historical value. Instead, we continue to perpetuate them by operating using the same tired strictures and obsolescent values, pursuing goals no different now than centuries earlier: greed for money, lust for power, separation of the classes, destruction of those who oppose us. Some of us cling to these precepts as a man to a life preserver in the middle of the sea, refusing rescue, preferring to be saved by drifting to land on the currents. The ridiculous lengths to which groups of people on this planet pursue courses which create conflict, rather than mitigating it, is staggering.
This is not to be completely dismissive of belief systems and organized forms of community different than our own. Everything that has come before us as provided the bricks and mortar that were laid down to create the foundation of humanity. Some bricks were forged in fire, some in blood, some in hope, some in tears, some in strength, but the sum total is far greater than the individual bricks. Still, it may be said that some of those bricks, while seeming sturdy on the outside, are, at their centers, hollow and unsound. A house may be built on a foundation that is not one hundred percent strong, but every percent below that increases the likelihood of eventual collapse. Perhaps there are too few bricks of the type in our home, but humanity cannot be sure, and cannot afford to turn a blind eye and hope for the best.
There is no blueprint for the perfect human society; human beings are too varied to fit one system to all. There will always be those in the human milieu who, no matter the bounty or peace that surrounds them, will agitate against such things, claiming they being stifled and their freedom limited, when that is furthest from the truth. One could hope that there will be new challenges and new frontiers that can absorb these malcontents and give them something to turn their energy towards, but until then, we must suffer along with their presence, as they attempt to divert us from our true destiny.
Those who align against reason, sanity, clarity, and logic are not going to be appeased. They will continue to fight tooth-and-nail against changes in “their” world, for that marks the difference between them and the rest of humanity – they do not see themselves a part of the grander scheme. They look upon those who do not follow their regimens and restrictions as “fools” or “the unworthy” or claim that their ultimate will be worse than the “faithful.” They seek to separate themselves from humanity, and seek to reinforce the dividing lines they have drawn, ensuring that they have the world they wish, without the interference of other forces constantly undermining them. They would return us to patterns of behavior that we passed by long ago as untenable, simply because those patterns are familiar and soothing to their minds.
We do ourselves a disservice to dismiss them callously, or impugn them, or lord our “superiority” over them. They, too, despite their societal flaws, are human, and by the rules we choose to live by, entitled to their opinion, even if we don't agree and it does not add to the peace and stability of society. We may pity them, or perhaps pray for them, but we should never think ourselves above them, for that leads us down the same road they and their ancestors have trodden. We would merely exchange one group of hard cases for another, only then we would find ourselves on the other side of the argument.
We will advance or fall together, of this there is no doubt. We should always keep that in mind. Disagree though we may, eventually we end up in the same place, perhaps slower than we would have liked, but just as inevitably. Let us learn to hold our tongues, extend our hands, and give ground where we can, to foster the creation of harmony, that we might seek a better end for all that much sooner. We have nothing to lose to try.