“Life outside society would be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” -from Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)
We Westerners live in societies that, throughout the relatively short history of our species, our forbears would have considered miraculous. Until well into the 20th-century, life for most remained as Hobbes as described it.
“Death borders upon our birth, and our cradle stands in the grave.” -Joseph Hall, Bishop of Exeter (1564-1656)
Consider the following: As late as the end of the 19th-century, one out of ten births ended in maternal death. Two out of ten, in fetal death. Surviving infants faced substantial mortality from commonplace disease and unavoidable trauma as well as even greater morbidity therefrom.
Depending upon geographical location and climatic changes, humans faced the threats of hunger from famine and thirst from drought. Periodic plagues swept across the land; for example, Bubonic Plague (“Black Death”) that killed as many as 200-million in the 14th-century. The threat continued; for example, influenza in 1918 that killed as many as 100-million. It continues today.
What changed a context dominated by fear and despair? Not idiosyncratic ideologies. Not superstitious myths. Not charismatic charlatans with their empty promises. Only Science and its applied derivative, Technology. The scientist Isaac Newton (1643-1727) alone contributed more to overall human betterment than all political leaders combined.
Science and Technology changed the quality and quantity of human existence. Consider just the luxuries of air conditioning to cool and central heating to warm, never mind the necessities of clean water to drink, untainted food to eat, and medicines to cure.
Consequence in the Western world? For one, satiation accompanied by dissatisfaction with the benefits with which Westerners have been blessed.
“A fool hath no delight in understanding,
But only that his heart may lay itself bare.” -Proverbs 18:2
Now, consider the hordes of whining, spoiled, self-indulgent ingrates demonizing those betters throughout history to whom they owe their comfort — nay, their well-being and, for most, their lives. More dangerous is their demonizing the means of their good fortune — Science and Technology — in favor of misguided ideologies and mystical superstitions.
“There is gold and a multitude of rubies;
But the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.” -Proverbs 20:15
Beyond comfort, health, and longevity, we owe Science an unpayable debt for bestowing upon us the gift of knowledge — knowledge of our world; our universe; and, yes, ourselves. Yet, when we employ that branch of Science describing our own behavior, cognition, and emotion — the Science of Human Behavior — to better society, we reject it, preferring charismatic charlatans and pseudo-scientific myths.
“The light of life is insufficiently bright to overcome the darkness of reality.” -Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970)
For our disregard of that branch of Science, we humans likely shall pay a heavy price. What price? Our existence.
The two, most perilous threats to human existence coming from the darkness of reality are nuclear war and plague. The former is a consequence entirely of our own behavior. The latter, largely a consequence of it.
“There are none so blind as those who will not see.” – John Heywood (1497-1580)
The time is not too late. The clock, however, is ticking. Tic-toc … Tic-toc … Tic-toc.
Before we as a species cease to exist and while time remains, let us try, at least, to see the Road to Redemption by brightening the light of life. How? By using the fuel of Biobehavioral Science and its offspring, the Science of Human Behavior.
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