Current Events vs History (Or, Weather vs Climate)

(Note: this started out as a small Facebook post, but I wanted to keep it here for future reference and expand on it)

For those of you fearing that America and, hell, the civilized world, is in a tailspin, consider this: How much progress has been made in the last 100 years? Do you think it was all a steady unwavering arrow towards decency and equality?

No. Not even close.

There have been ups and downs in greater or lesser degrees every step of the way. Some huge leaps forward and some grim steps back. But if you were to track all those points of positive and negative on a graph, you’d still see a path that’s going upward, even if right now it feels like it’s crashing down.

The reason people get depressed is because they focus on the micro part of this graph. They see the backslide going on right now and fear that it will take us back to the stone age. But if you look at the macro, you see that it’s highly unlikely that this is ever going to happen.

It might get dark, very dark, for a while. But in the end, those standing in the way of progress will die off, and those living with the consequences will make sure things get better again. The cycle will continue, but it will, ultimately, continue upward.

An analogy that seems strangely appropriate in a roundabout sort of way ties in with this very struggle. The bloody-mindedness of those who insist that climate change is a hoax, or who bring a snowball into the Senate and declare Global Warming to be nonsense.

Think of this as like Weather vs Climate.  Only change that to Current Events vs History.

Imagine the blue line as Current Events – the highs and lows that occur in society. Stretch out that timeline a bit so it’s from the 1900s to the early 2000s. Prohibition might have been a low point (given its motivations), while women’s right to vote would be a high. Near the middle you have the civil rights movement, towards the end gay marriage is being legalized.

Of course, you also have low points spread throughout as well.  The lynchings that occurred and times where justice was very publically denied. The repeated denial of rights that we now take for granted. And, of course, everything we see happening now. We think we’ve fallen off of a cliff already.

But you see that red line? That’s history. And notice that it, despite the sharp dips that occur, is still going up.

The reason I didn’t use this analogy when I first discussed this was because, well, it’s depressing.  Because right now those same people who are causing our current downtrend are ignoring the rising temperatures, making that problem worse.  It’s not an unreasonable fear that the necessary upswing it will take to create a zeitgeist that will actually take appropriate action might come too late.

It’s also important to point out that this is not a call to relax, that things will see to themselves no matter what, so why worry?

Hell no. Any system can collapse due to inattention.

And that’s the real problem. Right now, despair is taking over, and people are giving up. There are those no longer interested in fixing the problems they face, and have shifted gears to just survive them. They see the future as lost, so why bother? And that’s understandable. It’s hard to resist when resistance seems futile.

My purpose here is not just to say “all is not lost” but to give you the confidence to keep fighting… because things will get better. I’ve got history to back me up on this.

As depressing as it can be, we need focus on the micro of current events to remind ourselves why we have to fight. But we should remember the macro of history so we don’t give up, or give in to despair.

We have to look at history to remind ourselves why we will win.

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