Humanity has done marvelous, awe-inspiring things. Things that, when you think about it, will bring tears to your eyes. Super glue was invented in 1951. In 1956, the video cassette recorder was invented. In 1961, the Lava Lamp came out. The Lava Lamp isn’t all the rage anymore, super glue is taken for granted, and nobody (practically) uses cassettes anymore. We’ve all moved on to bigger and better things. In 1903, the Wright Brothers flew the first manned, powered flight for just 12 seconds. Only 66 years later–generally far less than a lifetime–the United States launched a rocket into space carrying three astronauts, and Mankind touched down on the Moon. For the first time in the history of Earth, one of its living, breathing organisms looked back at it from its Moon. How amazing it is, to be human.
We seem to take for granted our natural ingenuity and intelligence. Almost 500 years ago, Copernicus was publishing his theory that the world was not the center of the Universe (only to be shot down time and time again by the Catholic Church). Toilets that you could flush were being invented in the 16th century as well. The pocket watch was also invented by Peter Henlein around that time. 500 years before that, the world’s first paper money was made in China. The concept of true north was discovered, also by the Chinese. The horizontal loom began being used. So, here we are…2014. We have the Internet to connect every single person in the world who has access to a computer. We can drive 50 miles to work every morning in the comfort of a climate-controlled, luxury vehicle, and complain the whole way about traffic and how long it takes to get to work. This journey would have taken a man in the 1800s about a day to complete, with multiple horses. 82 years ago, the atom was split for the first time. Since then we have nearly mastered nuclear fission, created laser cutting tools, discovered hundreds of billions of stars and tens of thousands of galaxies, proven evolution (except to those creationist types), discovered the fused chromosome (Chromosome 2) that separates us from the other Great Apes, sent around 500 people into space, discovered successful vaccines for measles, hepatitis A, chickenpox, mumps…the list of human progression goes on and on. Every step of the way, we seem to be advancing faster and faster. The growth of technology has never been slow, by any means, but it seems that today we are taking off at a dead sprint. It is believed that fire began being used in a controlled fashion around 400,000 years ago, but experts believe it wasn’t widely used until around 50 to 100 thousand years ago. While I doubt that early man truly saw the benefits of technological progression, I must say that their (probably) accidental discovery of controlled fire has led us to where we are today. We, as modern humans, have only been around about 200,000 years. That’s fairly short in the evolutionary timeline. Not a whole lot about the world around us has significantly changed in that period of time. Yet, we have progressed further than organisms that have been around for millions of years. There is some level of pride that must be felt with that. We were a genetic accident…nothing more than a random genetic mutation that turned out to be beneficial rather than harmful (harmful is more common). Yet here we are, so-called masters of our world. We have mastered flight. We have traveled all the way around the world without stopping. We have dived into the deepest reaches of our oceans (although only around 6% has been explored). We have sent people to the Moon. We have sent our devices into space, past our own solar system. We have thousands of satellites orbiting our planet (although only a few hundred are operational). Soon, we will send Mankind past the moon, to planets beyond.
How truly awe-inspiring it is, to be fortunate enough to be a part of Mankind.
However, let us not forget all of the horrible atrocities that Mankind is responsible for. With these great things have also came great horrors. We have waged war like this planet has never seen, repeatedly killing each other in a vain attempt to establish dominance. We have killed millions because of their race or creed. We have polluted our oceans and air, which will take hundreds if not thousands of years to fix itself after we’re gone. We have destroyed entire ecosystems, pushing thousands of species to extinction. We have discriminated against members of our own species, simply because they look different. We have bred ignorance among our masses, shoving useless things down their throats instead of educating them. As wonderful as we are, we are also self-destructive. How very sad it is, to be a part of such an amazing species, yet we do such primitive and useless things.
We must encourage ourselves and others to become educated. While we will undoubtedly continue to advance further than we could ever currently comprehend, we must also realize that the possibility of social devolution is very strong. If we continue to encourage ignorance, and continue to encourage the pursuit of counterproductive activities, we could very well push ourselves backwards.
Let us not forget how wonderful it is to be Human, and let us not take that for granted.