“Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. Its progress is only apparent, like the workers of a tread-mill. It undergoes continual changes; it is barbarous, it is civilized, it is christianized, it is rich. it is scientific; but this in not amelioration. For everything that is given, something is taken. Society acquires new arts and loses new instincts.” Self Reliance Essays and Poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson
When I first read this I thought what do you mean society never advances? Has Mr. Emerson lost his mind? I spent the next couple of weeks hashing his writing over and over in my mind. Then just like the cartoon, a light bulb went off over my head. I have to agree with Mr. Emerson that “Society never advances”. Oh my gosh I could hear all the eye rolls out there. You think I have lost it now.
Let’s think about it. We have had several technological advances over the years however, has our society advanced? Our clothes, hair styles, automobiles, etc. have changed, but has society advanced? I think not. I know we could argue that point all day. I could agree that in some areas it has advanced but it has digressed in a lot of areas too. In today’s society it seems that human life was valued more 100 years ago than it is today. Children were certainly better behaved then and knew respect. Jobs were certainly harder and a handshake was better than a contract today. Life was harder but at the same time it was simpler.
Christianity was even different. Today a lot of religious faiths are more liberal than they were 100 years ago. Religion wasn’t a big business then either. My great grandfather was a minister and he had to have a job to support his family which was pretty much the norm then. The Bible didn’t change, society did. Society was open to a new set of beliefs and new interpretations of the Word of God. Incomes became larger so they were able to give more money to the churches. In essence the Word of God was interpreted differently to meet new life style changes that were happening in a changing society. Now please don’t get a bur under your saddle, I am not arguing religion and I am not saying that 100 years ago they were right and today they are wrong. I am not taking sides. The point of this blog is to bring awareness to Mr. Emerson’s works hoping that someone might pick up one of his books and read it. If I offended anyone I apologize.
There have been many protests and riots throughout the years and it amazes me how society has changed so much in its view of such events.
On May 4, 1970 unarmed college students Kent State University were protesting the Vietnam War when 29 Ohio National Guardsmen fired 67 rounds at the protesters. Four students were killed and nine wounded. In the days that followed 4 million students, universities, high schools and colleges, went on strike in protest of the shootings.
On August 10, 2014, the day after Michael Brown was shot by a white police officer, riots and protests started and lasted for two weeks and two days. The Missouri National Guard was called in but stationed some distance from the riots and were not used to stop the looting and destruction. Eric Holder even got the DOJ involved and they confirmed that Officer Wilson shot Brown in self defense. Then in June of 2017 Michael Brown’s family was awarded $1.5 million in a wrongful death law suit.
I could go on and on but I think these are examples of a society that are constantly changing. It is also happening in the field of education, music, medicine, etc.. I want to thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I hope you enjoyed reading and if you haven’t read Emerson yet, I hope you now have the desire to pick up one of his books.