Written: June 23, 2012 at 20:52 (Thanks, Facebook! Lol)
(Engage: Blast-From-The-Past Mode! So we’re back in this mode again. This is a note I wrote on Facebook a few years ago. Just thought I’d share. Enjoy!)
That elusive gem that everybody wants to get their hands on.
The driving force of technology and social and medical movements. The proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
What we all want so desperately but what we can never actually overtake. That thing that we follow relentlessly, extending our hand to close frantic fists upon the target only to find it disperses like water or air.
Is anything wrong with hunting progress?
No. Progress is a gift. It’s an indication of the power of the human mind, of the human spirit. Is there something there? Don’t worry, man. Give us enough time and we’ll not only tell you what it is, but we’ll figure out what it does, possibly how it even got to be there in the first place, and then find totally new ways to take advantage of it and/or make it better. That’s the peculiar gift of the human being. We are creators by name and nature; incorrigible innovators who aren’t happy unless we’re fiddling with this, thinking about that, understanding the other or inventing everything in between. And who can be surprized by that? After all, we were made in the image and likeness of His Imperial Majesty JAH (No, people, NOT Rastafari, NOT Haile Selassie. Di Rasta ppl dem tief di name. Pree Psalms 68:4), Jehovah God Almighty, who is, Himself, the essence of creativity. Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding are 3 things that we naturally seek after, and the acquisition of these 3 can also be called “Progress”. So progress is a good thing.
Humanity has been around for at least a few thousand years. Some would say we’ve been here for millions or even billions of years. Getting into that debate is irrelevant to the point here; interested parties will be asked to wait for that particular event until later. But, for the moment, suffice it to say that we’ve been around for quite some time now. Any way you look at it, history tells us that we’ve made some staggering discoveries over the years and that we’ve moved forward in leaps and bounds. This, for many, is the most conspicuous mark of Progress.
I mean, look at it. Once upon a time there was a man called Bobbert (let’s call him “Bob” for short). Bob had to walk for 3 days and nights just to visit his love interest, Barbeesha, and ask her father for her hand in marriage. It goes without saying that he’d have to walk back home another 3 days and nights. But the story must go on. Here are the highlights: Bob marries Barbeesha (and gets into some serious shape in the process). Their entire town gets taken out by a hurricane — not a single thatch house was spared (tragic). Their oldest son gets eaten by lions and their youngest by bears. They lost their middle son on the battlefield because they couldn’t get a lifesaving message to him in time. And to top it off, old Bob (and more than half of his town) dies from a chronic case of Yellow Fever at the ripe old age of 39. His daughter, who had access to the vaccine but was living in another kingdom with her new, rich husband, got to him a day and a half too late.
Now let’s insert Bob into the 21st century. Bob and Barbeesha can communicate whenever they want because they both use BBM and Facebook (on the downside, he didn’t get super-fit because he never had to walk so far anymore). Most of their town survives the hurricane thanks to superior modern infrastructure. Their oldest son hates dogs, having been bitten by one and their youngest got scratched for harassing the family cat (the lions and tigers and bears were too busy trying to escape extinction at the hands of humans, or else rotting away in zoos to eat anybody). The cyber world and sophisticated modern intelligence systems enables their middle son’s commanders to communicate lifesaving information to the troops on and off the battlefield. Besides, wars now are different from wars back then and rarely on such a large scale anyways, so his chances of living through it are pretty high (unless somebody decides to drop an atomic bomb nearby). Finally, Yellow Fever is old news. Doctors nowadays will scoff at it. Bob has bigger fish to fry, like Cancer and AIDS.
Excluding the idleness, that sounds something like progress, right? After such a long period of human existence, it only makes sense that these developments would come about. But is that all there is to progress? Just technological advances and medical breakthroughs and bending the forces of nature to our whims? Is it just being able to send a message to the other side of the world with nothing more than the touch of a button? Flying from Jamaica to China in only a few hours? No one can deny that these things are real and that they are progressive. We can FLY!!!! Albeit only in metal hulks that weigh tons, but that in itself is a wonder. We can fly! But still, I ask the question: is that all there is to progress?
Let’s jump back to Bob. People in his day would probably think that we were some sort of god or something if they were to see what we are capable of. They are far behind us on the road to development. In fact, sometimes we turn up our noses at them. But is progress only the tangible, the visible, the scientific? Bob’s world was vastly different, but I dare say that in many ways it was a GOOD different. Bob could sleep with his doors unlocked — can you? Bob would have probably put his head on the block (maybe he would have caught a grenade, too) and sworn that Barbeesha was not cheating on him, and there’s a VERY high chance that he would have been right — can you swear (with your head on the block) that your significant other is yours and yours alone? And even if you can (rightfully) do so and are not simply “sprung”, if we were to take a census of both societies (Bob’s and ours), which one would have a higher percentage of cheaters? In Bob’s day, almost everybody got married as virgins (the consequences were dire otherwise; besides, people had more of a sense of honour back then) — did YOU even make it out of HIGH SCHOOL with YOUR virginity intact? (Don’t answer that one out loud. Don’t react either or you’ll give yourself away; put on that poker face!) In Bob’s day, people lived off the land. Even if Bob wasn’t rich, he and his family could always find something growing on a tree or below ground to eat, all year round. What’s more, their land produce was highly nutritious. Can you avoid starvation in this day and age if you suddenly run out of money? Can you even find any decent amount of trees, much less fruit trees where you live? And even if you can, can you get close enough to climb it or ask the owner of the property to allow you to get something off it without incurring a lawsuit? Everybody wants to live in the cities nowadays, nearest to the “progress” and “development” (and who can forget the awesome skyscrapers? Oooh!!! Pretty!!!). And look at our special “progressive” brand of GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS. A little hormone injected here, a little extra colouring added there, a little realignment of the genes and voila: Canned Death! No wonder diabetes and other dietary illnesses are on the rise. No matter what language he spoke, if you said the word “DIABETES” to Bob in all the ancient languages, he probably would have scratched his head, put on a perplexed expression and asked you if that was a new god you were introducing to him (if he were a pagan or from ancient philosophical Greece), a new style of martial arts (if he was from ancient China) or the name of the latest sea monster spotted. Back in the day, too, your land was your land. You move in on a free plot, erect a simple wooden structure and it’s yours. Look at our “First World/Developed” countries nowadays, though. The next time someone from the “First World” tells you they own a house, tell them they’re lying! How can I “own my home” yet the bank can come and repossess it if the manager wakes up in a bad mood and decides to take it out on everybody? No, my friend, you own a MORTGAGE or a BANK LOAN, not a house or a plot of land. Even if you do “have” that house or land, what if you don’t pay LAND TAX for YOUR land? Well, you kiss it goodbye, of course. So is it really yours or the bank’s?
Is it me, or does no one else realize our entire modern society is rooted, grounded and founded upon an abomination of the 10th Commandment? This is the new version: “Thou shalt COVET. Thou shalt covet thy neighbour’s wife and/or thy neighbour himself. Thou shalt covet thy neighbour’s money, car, blackberry, house, Converse and everything else that is thy neighbour’s.” And, believe it or not, breaking that commandment gives way to breaking all the rest. Because you want what your neighbour has, you’ll be prepared to tell lies on him, steal from him, hate him and kill him depending on how badly you want what he has. (Hey, King David did it just to get Bath-Sheba who he saw bathing from his roof. She must have been pretty darn hot to make HIM, a man after God’s own heart, kill her husband to get her).
I’m not saying Bob’s world was perfect — far from it. But one thing is sure. If his society was far from the mark, we FURR (Jamaican talk)! Think about our society. The rich get richer by disadvantaging the poor. Every man for himself. “Do what thou wilt” is our law. “Live your own life — let no one tell you what to do”, says society. Then that same society complains when robbers and drug addicts and murderers and pedophiles and adulterers and rapists start doing just that: living their own life and not letting anyone tell them what to do! That’s progress, right?
The long and short of it is that our society is becoming (or at least is trying to become) increasingly independent of God. “God doesn’t exist”, they say. Well, look at Psalm 14:1. How can we call this progress, pursing the lesser and ignoring the greater? Take a moment and think. Think about a world where everyone, or even just your community, followed the 10 Commandments to the “tee”. Imagine it: No murders. No theft. No liars. No parasites trying to steal your girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband. And no girlfriends/boyfriends/wives/husbands who want to give themselves away to other people, for that matter. No homosexuals or pedophiles trying to rape your little boy’s bottom or attacking your little girl or telling them it’s “normal”. No heterosexuals doing all that, for that matter, either. No disrespecting your parents and no parents disrespecting you. No coveting. No disrespecting God. No taking His Name in vain. No turning to demons and obeah and witchcraft to curse somebody or get money etc. No hogging of resources by a few so they can retain power at your expense. No not being able to pay light bill or water bill or buy food or send the kids to school. Think about it all. Do you like what you see in your mind? Even if you think those commandments are a bother, do you like the end result they promise? Look at the world around you and answer me this:
Are we not progressing away from progress?