The good: decreased global war, longer lifespans for humans, more humans, equality (legally) for some women, increased literacy, less people involved in dangerous and menial rural labour.
The bad: increased species extinction, family breakdown, increased divorce, more humans, deforestation, climate change, massive pollution, corporate control (which has supplanted naked colonialism), freshwater loss, increased energy use by humans, faulty economic models….
The ugly: (see the bad).
‘There are many approaches to history….’–‘Which approach is right, I mean for the test?’–‘Ohh…. [In each,] something is gained, and something is lost.’
Of course, I’m a middle-aged, white, Canadian, armchair history buff in the 21st century, and so I ask myself, what do I gain and what do I lose and can I even tell?
The core question of history …
(according to Crash Course #5–The Persians & Greeks):
‘What’s the point of being alive? Should we try to insure the longest, healthiest, and most productive lives for humans’ or is life ‘supposed to be lived in pursuit of some great ideal worth sacrificing endlessly for’? Is modern globalization an ideal worth sacrificing endlessly for or does it try to insure the longest, healthiest, and most productive lives for humans or neither?
… is further explored, in India …
(in #6–Buddha & Ashoka):
‘Buddhism isn’t that concerned with the order of the world.’ Following the inner prong, ‘Buddhism argues that the fulfilment of the self will lead to the order of the world.’ Siddhārtha Gautama, the Buddha, was born anywhere from 563 to 440 BCE and died about 80 years later, around 483 to 360 BCE. Ashoka‘s empire (269-232 BCE), founded on Buddhist principles, did not outlast him. Yet today, thousands of years later, millions call themselves Buddhist.
… and China
(in #7–2,000 Years of Chinese History! The Mandate of Heaven and Confucius):
In China, Confucius (551-479 BCE) looked to the wise rulers of the past and said that by following ‘morally upright behaviour, the Chinese emperor could bring order to China.’ That’s the outer prong. This ‘boils down to everyone knowing his or her place in a series of hierarchical relationships and acting accordingly.’ One of the most important is the father-son relationship, in which each strives to be a ‘superior man’, or chunzi. ‘This idea applies especially to the emperor, who is like the father to the whole country.’
Before Confucius (a human), rulers were supposedly Mandated by Heaven. Heaven allowed the emperor or empress to rule if he or she behaved, and not do such things as eat opponents or indulge in orgies–in other words, they could rule if they were good rulers. Rulers and their dynasty sometimes lost the Mandate (after the fact) and were overthrown. However, one of the better rulers was Yu The Engineer. In an open letter, John Green says, ‘I freaking love you, Yu The Engineer. And the fact you’re not real–it breaks my heart, in a way that could only be fixed by Yu The Engineer. The circularity reminds me of the Mandate of Heaven.’
Is butchering people the way to go?
(in #8 Alexander the Great and the Situation … the Great?):
‘Thankfully, we’ve left behind the idea that the best way to become an icon is to butcher people and conquer a lot of land, but the ideals that we’ve embraced instead aren’t necessarily worth celebrating either. All of which is to say, we decide what to worship and what to care about and what to pay attention to…. Alexander couldn’t make history in a vacuum, and neither can anyone else.’ Is buying stuff any better?
Consider the dangers and benefits of commerce
(in #9 The Silk Road and Ancient Trade):
How long is the Silk Road from yesterday to today and is it even longer–or faster, or more confusing–going from today to tomorrow? The Silk Road and its trade ‘began the tension that we still see today between wealth and politics.’ In his open letter to billionaires about wealth, John Green says, ‘It will never be enough. Your relentless hoarding will kill us all.’ Though only very few could afford the actual traded goods, their commerce affected everyone: increased material wealth, the spread of ideas (such as Buddhism), and Eurasian interconnectedness which brought devastating diseases (the Black Death, for example). Trade, whether it’s the ancient Silk Road or modern globalization, brings ‘both promise and threat to each of us.’
‘We’re taught that our history is the story of Christianity in Europe, when in fact our history is the story of people on the planet.’
(Though I would argue, thanks to Thomas Berry, cultural historian, that our story is really the story of the universe.)
Gold and empathy
(in #14 The Dark Ages…How Dark Were They, Really?)
‘Nothing gold can stay in this world, nothing gold can stay.’
‘Exercise in empathy is the coolest thing about studying history.’
(in #17 Wait For It…The Mongols!)
We finish off this bit about globalization by considering the Mongols, who ‘promoted trade, diversity, and [religious] tolerance. And they also promoted slaughter and senseless destruction…. Do you value artistic output over religious diversity? Is imperialism that doesn’t last better than imperialism that does? And are certain kinds [all kinds?] of warfare inherently wrong?’
Got a uke; retuned it. Practised being steady and trying to sound all 3 notes of the chord; arpeggios aren’t too good; Tom Allen reminded us of the power of concentrated meaning in some lyrics’ few words, so I’m gonna revise Could Be Worse. image from wikipedia.
AWARE News Network (2013-04-01) reports:
From Elizabeth Brass Elson:
‘A group of First Nation members have set up camp and are occupying the Springwater Provincial Park. The Park has been closed down without any consultation to the First Nations. The group will be occupying these Crown Lands until the MNR and the Provincial Government consult with the First Nation Bands who have Treaty Title to these lands.
Idle No More’
Easter Monday [2013-04-01], Bob and I did the overnight shift at Out Of The Cold. I read Community and Growth while most slept. The next night [2013-04-02], Bob and I were at it again, at an Out Of The Cold BOD meeting, while Sue went to an Midland Community Gardens meeting. When we were done, it was snowing. Thursday [2013-04-04], Bob and Robert made a presentation to the Simcoe County Alliance To End Homelessness.
Cynthia Breadner, whose blog I feature, invites you ‘to have a read and comment on my blog. It is fun and I like to share my words in many ways. I think we are all connected and through divine love we can find hope.’ image from cynthiabreadner.blogspot.ca.