I’m one of those people who reads alot. Mostly it is detective fiction for relaxation. But another interest is non-fiction about ideas and ‘big histories’. By ‘big histories’ I mean those books that take on either a big subject, like the history of technology or time, or big time periods, like the history of humanity or a whole millennium.
There was a rash of these ‘big histories’ published around the turn of the millennium and I read quite a few. They were all well written and very enjoyable.
Then I wondered if I had learnt anything from them. There are three important things I’ve learnt.
1. It doesn’t have to be this way. In the past people saw things differently and did things differently. And these ways of seeing and doing made just as good sense to them as our ways of seeing and doing do to us. And people will see things differently in the future. When we look back at past civilisations we ask: Why didn’t they see what was happening? Why didn’t they just . . . (its so obvious).
That things can be different sounds small and simple but its implications can be large. It means that:
2. The way things are have been shaped by people making choices – based on how they see things. And this means that the future is partly what we make it.
3. This is probably the hardest lessons. Civilisations can die. There are whole civilisations we didn’t know about even 100 years ago. There are cities that look like they controlled vast areas that we know almost nothing about, because - either none of their writings have survived, or, they didn’t have any writing system. There are even those in the recent past like Easter Island, which seem to have exhausted their island and kept on building their statues until they literally died. To think that we will survive may be sentimental tosh – and it may well be a dangerous delusions. Other civilisations have died, there is no reason why ours shouldn’t.
But (#1 again) things don’t have to be this way. We can start taking choices right now to live in more sustainable and worthwhile ways. To spend more time doing what we think is worthwhile and getting together with others to do them with. And it can be really simple stuff: going for a walk, gardening with friends. We can make our own small contribution to changing history starting now.
No related posts.
Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.