A lot of the events taking place around us would make a lot more sense if we viewed them in the context of history. There are many different ways to look at history. Buddhists and others view history cyclically, as an endless loop of repetition. There is some merit to cyclical thinking. The meme “good times create weak men, weak men create hard times, hard times create strong men” contains a lot of truth in my eyes. It is especially true when it comes to the men of the West today. They don’t oppose our clear enemies and shy away from conflict into the embrace of hedonistic celebrity worship and electronic entertainment.
Myself, I like the linear view of history. History is (usually) constant progression into ever more advanced technology and knowledge. We are clearly more advanced and better off than people earlier than us on the line. At the same time, we must remember the future. People of the future will look back at the present as the past. This might seem like an obvious point, but it holds a lot of explanatory power. We like to view ourselves as modern and more “enlightened” than the rubes of yesterday. But we make mistakes as well.
Just as we laugh and hold contempt for the primitive beliefs held by man a couple centuries back, contemporary man holds many wacky beliefs as well. Some people say that opposition to LBGT-issues will be viewed as backwards in 50-years’ time. This same principle applies to many other issues as well. People of the past were superstitious and unscientific we claim. But aren’t we as well? The “science” of nutrition is a great case study. What is purported to be good for you changes and changes again over and over again. It is basically food fads masquerading as science. Objective nutritional science exists, I concede that, but it has little to do with “detox cures”, superfoods, the gluten-free movement, veganism and so on.
Environmentalists are basically Gaia worshippers. Man is born with original sin, progress (economic) is sinful and must be stopped. Predictions labelled scientific have failed again and again. A couple of decades back global cooling was the big problem. Climate scientists failed to predict the lack of temperature increases lately, instead inventing the excuse that the warmth hid in the oceans. They also made wild claims about increased frequencies of extreme weather, yet hurricane Harvey is the first major hurricane to make landfall in over a decade. Overpopulation would kill billions, we wouldn’t be able to produce enough food, mass starvation would ensue. Instead obesity is a global epidemic, killing millions and harming the health of many more.
Geopolitics are different if we remember the long and bloody history of religious conflict. The battles of today between Islam and Christianity didn’t appear in a vacuum. History contains a lot of material about such conflicts. A lot of the complexities of our world make much more sense if we view ourselves as a speck on the linear line of history. Typically, we think about the present as the end of this line, this is faulty thinking and leads to the above-mentioned conclusions. The present of yesterday is the past to us, just as our present will be the past in the future. If we think about the times to come after us, it is easier to accept the fact that we are flawed individuals with many crazy and irrational beliefs, just like our forefathers.