Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How Much Have We Evolved?

I wonder why it is so hard for some people to say that there was a divine force at work in creating the world, and all of those creations kept on evolving? I don't see it as two conflicting points of view.

Look at all the evolution around us. My grandfather used to deliver ice for people's ice boxes, which is what they called the first home refrigerators. He carried blocks of ice on his back up flights of stairs. Today, we enjoy refrigerators that make ice, keep our food cold and even dispense filtered drinking water while we relax in our air conditioned homes.

Even at the time I was a kid, we had relatives who lived on farms who had outhouses instead of bathrooms and hauled their drinking, bathing and washing water up from the well in buckets.

I remember taking a trip across the country in a train, which less than a hundred years ago, was the fastest and most luxurious way to get from one end of the country to the other.

When I first started work, we typed on typewriters, and made copies by using carbon paper. Adding machines were big and clunky. When I was a kid, there were still quite a few people who had "party lines" for telephone service, which meant that several people shared one telephone line, and you had to wait for your neighbors to get off the line before you could make a call.

Today, we all have little phones that easily fit in our pocket so that we never have to look for a pay phone and we can make and get calls absolutely anywhere. Some of these phones also double as cameras, and others are little computers that can also surf the web and send email.

We all have access to laptop computers which are easy to take with us and make it easy for us to write, design and create on. We can make all the copies of our work that we want, and change it even easier. Within minutes, people on the other side of the world can be reading what we wrote and looking at pictures we uploaded.

Between the time of the Wright Brothers to regularly scheduled commercial flights was only fifty years. The iconic American artist Norman Rockwell was at one time an illustrator for magazine and newspaper advertisements. One of the big ad campaigns he worked on promoted the wonders of a revolutionary new invention, indoor electric lights. And that was also not that long ago. He was still illustrating magazine covers when I was growing up.

Today, most of us, even my 83-year-old mother, send emails to each other instead of writing letters on paper and sending them through the post office or making long distance phone calls.

Now even poor people in this country live in places that have electricity, indoor plumbing, air conditioning, phones and other marvels.

All of that evolution in just a few generations.

And yet there are some lessons we have not learned as humans. Wars to take other people's land, wars to steal other people's resources, wars to make other people follow the same religion, wars caused by hatred of another group of people just because they are a different ethnic group or race, wars for all kinds of reasons, we have not yet evolved beyond. Will we?

In some ways we have evolved a lot. In other ways, we have evolved little.

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