Looking back generations, we can’t imagine how the lived without some things we take for granted—anesthetics, vaccines, understanding about germs. Can you imagine a tooth cavity meaning pulling it without anesthesia or a cut meaning possible death?
I expect people before anesthetics couldn’t have imagined something to numb pain as well as modern anesthetics do. I expect they looked back at what generations before them lacked and felt great that they knew they could operate at all, not knowing what anesthetics could do. If they couldn’t imagine what hadn’t existed yet, they probably didn’t lament lacking something they couldn’t imagine.
What might future generations cringe at our lacking? We have too much material stuff so I doubt material things.
I suspect they’ll look back at our lack of purpose and effort, our overindulging and our sense of entitlement leaving us empty inside, more interested in seeing sites than acting in service of others who are helpless. Do I sound overly judgmental? This perspective seems inevitable after watching documentaries about what we are doing to our environment. Not even documentaries—just watching and reading the news and seeing people continuing to act as they did. When I was a kid, shows on the environment were called nature shows and showed how animals and plants lived in other places. At the end of each show, the narrator would say a few words about the loss of habitat or other threat. Shows just to show its wonder and beauty don’t exist anymore. They only show loss, on greater and more permanent scales. I dream that we re-elevate values like stewardship, empathy, listening, and service to others.
Amazingly, we criticize people with more material stuff than ourselves who indulge themselves too, not realizing we can change to less material stuff any moment we choose. We can challenge ourselves to reach our potentials without dominating nature or treating it as “out there,” but just as much “in here” and everywhere.
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On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees