Ancient Civilization

Ancient discoveries hint at civilization before civilization was supposed to exist.

This kind of thing always fills me with a bit of wonder. I mean, when you think about it, I feel like there's very little doubt that a human 10,000 years ago didn't argue, love, lie, act charitably, and care about his or her children's future. (Things like a joke from 1900 B.C. - which is probably more funny if it isn't translated from a long-dead language - really help this idea along, too.) Over all, I think it's very likely that humanity has changed less than we think it has. And when we start looking at history that way, new interpretations start to come out - like the idea that the pyramids may have been motivated a little by religion and a lot by economic stimulus, and the fact that there are parts of the year where farming is greatly reduced because of the flooding of the Nile but people still need jobs. (I'll look around for a source on that one - I know there's a bunch around, but it's been a long day.)

At the same time, though, it's a little interesting to think that humanity - humans, just like us, no different except in the knowledge they have to pass on - have existed for so long, but only lately have we sprung into such technological influence. (And even if you're a global warming denier - which you shouldn't be, seriously, read the IPCC report - just take a look at some of our biggest cities and compare them to how big they were 100 years ago. Or 1,000. It's been a big change.) To put it extremely lightly, our species has exploded. We were doing pretty good for a while there - maybe the last 5,000 years - and yet in the last 200 we've doubled and doubled and doubled, and expanded all the while. Look at population graphs - they're absolutely insane to think about.

I feel like I'm being a little circular, so let me get to my point: we are such a young species when it comes to the responsibility we've created for ourselves. We've had the power to change our environments for a very long time, but never this quickly and this dramatically. And nothing in our history indicates that we've ever had to deal with this level of responsibility before - whereas many things in our history indicate that we, as individuals, haven't changed a whole lot. What's really grown is informational systems - the ability to pass down complex information.

And now the test is whether those informational systems can organize themselves and produce a new age of responsibility. Because we need it, real bad.

No comments:

Post a Comment