- We have more conveniences. We’re making progress.
- We have more opportunities. We’re making progress.
- We have more TV channels and electronic gadgets and fast-food restaurants and clothing labels. We’re making progress.
My grandmother spent her childhood years in the Great Depression.
“Everyone was so poor, you didn’t even notice. You were valued for who you were, not what you had.”
I don’t know exactly what happened between then and now, but I’m pretty sure progress had something to do with it.
The stories my grandmother tells me are those of production. Growing her own food. Raising livestock. Reading. Using imagination to make up games to play. Exploring the woods. Picking bouquets of wild flowers. Riding horses to deliver gifts. Dropping in unannounced on friends and neighbors.
She laughs softly when recounting these memories, perhaps thinking I can’t possibly relate to the experiences, appreciate their simplicity. At 85, she is well aware that far more than years separate us. The world has moved on, and the life she knew was left behind. I get the sense that she feels somewhat lost in today. I understand that. Having witnessed the changes - the progress - that have occurred in her lifetime, it makes sense.
What do the next 75 years hold for us? Momentum, such as it is, will surely bring about change at an even faster pace than we’ve seen. That thought terrifies me. My boys’ memories are already worlds apart from those my Grandmother shares. How much more-so when they’re her age?
Will there come a time, do you think, when progress is no longer associated with linear and sequential movement along a generally accepted track? When it’s not defined within the context of the ‘more equals better’ mindset? Is there at least the chance for a return to simplicity? To a place and time where you might value me not because of my increased efficiencies or my refined tastes or my purchasing power, but instead because of my connection to the earth and the strength of my human relationships?
It’s not that I want what’s in the rear view mirror. I know that’s a sucker’s game. But learning from our time here…that seems important. Because progress should be more about improving than advancing. There is a difference.