The world is progressing from a more physical, basic, coarse environment to one that is more spiritual, ephemeral, complex, and fine. Humankind is reaching deep down to the essence of matter and uncovering the spaces in matter that are not visible to the natural, physical human eye. We use increasingly fine-tuned instruments to explore the smallest spaces in spots of matter and are reaching out to the vast spaces beyond our world.
We have discovered the basic fundamentals of all matter as being composed of the same basic pieces, particles and waves, matter and energy. Our knowledge is continually developing and growing and changing. Life is becoming easier and longer for many people of this world and this development is continuing to encroach upon every corner of the globe.
What are the results of this moving away from basic, brutal, nature? What happens to people as they make these developments?
We can see this as we compare people living in a developed, modern atmosphere and those living in more ancient ways.
If you observe a traditional Masai family in Kenya, for example, the lives of the people are spent mostly outside. They work directly with their sources of food and clothing, which includes their cattle and the vegetables they grow in their gardens. They live in close quarters with animals and use natural object as their material base, such as in using dung and mud to plaster their houses. It is easy to picture the dusty environment they must live in and the smells are no doubt pungent! Disease is admittedly more common and deadly in an environment like Africa, but that is in some ways due to the climate as well as lack of modern kinds of healthcare. Life tends to be much shorter for these people and the infant mortality rate is higher.
These people are close to the land from which they gain their livelihood, but they must physically struggle against dangers such as lions which may try to attack their cattle, as well as other dangerous wild animals. Violence is more common in these societies. But the people live in close-knit family groups and communities. They have an excellent support system of family and tribe members. But there is also little room for social inconformity. Who you are is largely determined by your family and chances for advancement in society is most likely limited. Most will go on to do what their parents did, with little choice to try something different.
Compare that to a typical family in the U.S. Children spend most of their time indoors. They go to a school where they sit inside for most of the day. They work with paper, pencils, and nowadays computers and iPads. Their parents usually work indoors as well. They go inside climate-controlled, sanitized stores to buy food that has been prepackaged and sometimes even pre-cooked and is arranged in an organized fashion for the buyers to easily find and select whatever it is they want. They have little knowledge of where the food came from or who handled it. The food and also clothes and other items they buy in large, centralized markets inside buildings are far removed from where they were made.
The homes and buildings where the average American spends the most time is climate-controlled, made of wood, stone or steel with manmade materials adorning them inside and out. Electricity provides light and heat. Entertainment is mediated through electronic TVs and computers. Much of the world can be mediated into their homes through these electronic devices which capture digital signals and represent them for the viewer’s pleasure and instruction. Homes and buildings are usually kept clean with oftentimes harsh chemicals that kill life forms such as bacteria and viruses. Disease is less common and health care comes from centralized, organized institutions that have found many ways to protect against disease and help to heal a body that is injured or sick. At least they can do so on the surface. And yet, such environments as hospitals can also foster super bugs that evolve to become resistant to human efforts to control them. Are the human developments developing the bugs as well? Are we aiding them in their evolution in order to survive our chemical onslaughts?
In this modern society, families tend to spread out and communities are not close-knit. People are highly mobile and people tend to live next to random strangers. Therefore, in order to find social support outside of your small family, people congregate to groups such as churches, clubs, or their places of employment in order to find some social support. But it is not very easy to do. In addition, the society is quite mobile. Children are educated equally up until college and have many chances to do different jobs from what their parents did. The typical American dream is to rise from a humble beginning to transcend your parents’ positions and become successful. People are free to move around, express themselves in whatever ways they wish, and make a choice about how they want to earn the money that buys them the many accoutrements that make up our material lives. It is a fluid society, like atoms moving freely in a warm gas. But when you move so freely, it is also easier to fall off the edge! Or maybe we will simply float off into space!
As you can see in the typical modern household, people are quite removed from the natural, original, basic environment. They are shielded from the dangers of the world through physical and governmental boundaries. This leads to longer life-spans and increased reproductive success. And yet, it is also true that developed nations are now having fewer children. So, what of that? Why would people with more success limit their reproduction? That is another intriguing question for biologists to consider. Are we beginning to abstract ourselves out of physical existence? Are we transforming ourselves to a different realm? It almost seems as if our society is levitating above the common world of our planet.