We all tend to think of “progress” (whatever that is–I think we all have our own definition of what progress actually is) as a good thing. Whether it’s social progress moving in a way that’s good, or society moving in a direction that brings back things we think of as virtuous or good from bygone generations, progress is good… right?
Progress in the modern era has brought about first-world countries, comfort, hygiene, safety, and many other things that most would regard good.
However, with this progress, there are problems that pop up as well. As Seth Godin points out, the person who invented the ship also invented the shipwreck.
The cheapness and availability of food have lead to obesity problems. Videos games have made us not want to go out and play. The safety of the modern home makes sending kids outside into the world a more scary thing than ever even though it’s safer out there than ever before.
There is this concept that bad times create strong men and strong men create good times and good times create bad men who, of course, create bad times and the cycle carries on and on.
I think it’s important to have a strong grasp and respect for history so that whether we’re in the bad men or strong men times, we can embrace the luxuries that progress brings while still remembering the value of the difficulties of those who went before us endured. It made them the people who made the good times we enjoy (or vice versa.)
By remembering our history and applying the lessons of it in our life we can strike a sharp balance between modern comfort while avoiding the decadence that destroys lives, morality, and ultimately entire societies.