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Modern society

The OP-Ed article which I chose was contained in the Santa Fe New Mexican on Friday, May 7th, 2010 on page A-7. The article was written by Michael Shermer who lists himself as the publisher of Skeptic magazine and an adjunct professor at Claremont Graduate University. He also lists himself as an author. The Santa Fe New Mexican piece was a reprint from the Los Angeles Times. The title of the article is what originally intrigued me and as I read this opinion piece I realized that I was basically in agreement with him.

His thesis which he succinctly summarizes in the last paragraph is that what a lot of people wish for now are “the good old days” were not so good. He points to many examples in the article of the advantages of today. He acknowledges that modern society has its problems but society has always had its problems and probably always will. He suggests that rather than neglect or ignore problems we ought to recognize that modern society has advantages which surpass those of any other time in history and that if we focus on the present and accept its challenges humanity can achieve a better future.

But, I guess I may be getting ahead of my analysis. He starts his piece by discussing the relative poverty of a small Brazilian village today and relates it to how most of the world’s population would have existed or subsisted 10,000 years ago. He compares the scarce resources those people have to what the residents of what he calls the “village of Manhattan” has today. The variety of products and services that are available to the average person are in his words phenomenal.

I am not an advocate that material wealth is the only measure of a person. Although a good deal of the article relates to conveniences, Mr. Shermer does not fall into the trap that is all there is to life. He points out that in past times people expended most of there time just trying to obtain the resources necessary to survive, had a far shorter life expectancy, were more likely to prey upon another or be preyed up. He does not short change the problems of modern society. He acknowledges them readily.

I believe that this article emphasizes true American values: “the pursuit of happiness”, a willingness to step up to the problems of society, and a resolve to solve them. Mr. Shermer may be a cheerleader for our way of life. He may be a dreamer, but dreams can become a reality. This opinion column or essay I think demonstrates a good form. It opens with the statement that environmentalists and others portray a gloomy future. He makes a strong argument that we do live in the best of times and concludes with the fact that for more people than in most times in history, life is good.

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