Influential Prose

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Shaving Off The Years

In Ray Bradbury’s short story The Sound of Thunder, a group of adventurers sign up for a time travel trip into the deep past. In the course of their visit, one traveler breaks the rules, gets out of their vehicle and steps on a butterfly. When they return to their own time, it has been permanently altered.

Similarly, if we were to travel back to pre-agricultural times when humanity was clustered in small tribes of hunter-gatherers, most of them extended families, we would see a lot of chaos – violence due to the lack of police, linguistic barriers and misunderstandings due to lack of language standardization, widespread ignorance and confusion. Rough neighborhood.

They were tough hombres and they weren’t dumb, not all of them, but there was a lot they didn’t know. They had basic social structures and customs to deal with conflict, but anyone from our time could suggest improvements.

If you were somehow trapped in that time, you might want to jump in and do that, make some suggestions, help them do better. Your efforts could shave thousands of years off humanity’s future development.

In our own time, we’re still dealing with the legacy of various mythologies, and to illustrate that, I’m going to quote an observation by Eric Feris, one of the regulars in the Deaf Freethinkers group on Facebook:

Taking into account how religion comes to dominate in a society; the murder, the misogyny, the lies, the deceit, the rape and pederasty, the absolute cornholing of truth, the needless warfare, the willful ignorance and the oppression, the vile and pernicious slander, victimization, and cruelty, the absolute disregard for human rights, justice, and progress, the evil people who selfishly and joyously promulgate, inculcate, and perpetuate all of this, and the many and multifold layers upon layers of more of the same, decade after decade and century after century…

Faced with that reality today, I feel compelled to do what I can to build a more rational, secular society today. Maybe we can shave a few thousand years off humanity’s future development by doing so.

Written by Influential Prose

October 8, 2014 at 12:37 pm

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