6. Reconcilable differences

Summary: Having surveyed how humans fall into the progress trap, we need to show how this plays out. We can take history as our laboratory and prove that spiritually rich communities and individuals find solutions to their problems more readily than those that are exhausted. Before Athens and Rome reached their apex, both enjoyed inventiveness in intellectual, scientific, military and cultural affairs, but genius abandoned them. The same appears to be true of Mayan and Minoan centres. Easter Island as we know, exhausted itself in every sense, meeting a brutal fate. What makes this "trap" a matter of great concern is the fact that human violence and modern weapons make the consequences of environmental degradation especially dangerous. It is thus essential to resolve the impasse between technical progress and human ecology .


    The interest of industry in green enterprise has been mainly to comply with new regulations, to develop cleanup processes, and to offer environmentally safe, or recyclable products. The Worldwatch Institute’s Vital Signs (1998) noted a steady increase in compact-fluorescents, solar cells, wind and hydroelectric power, but also reported an increase in fossil fuel use and car production. So why has there been little cooperation between scientific and cultural fields, given that there is good evidence that the world can indeed be a better place if society pools its resources to achieve that goal? Does science deserve to be viewed with contempt by the ‘cultural’ or artistic communities, or does it deserve the undying respect of its practitioners, with the Arts accorded only marginal significance in the life of societies? The answer to these questions is no, science and technology are not inherently harmful, and the arts are not valueless pursuits that should be be forgotten as relics from some prescientific ‘age of innocence.’

    In truth, humans do tolerate anomalies and promote individual creativity, being fully aware that people are too highly talented to be cast aside on account of differences. It is essential to restore a sense of humane vitality to our daily lives, ensuring that the fruits of ingenuity are used constructively. If scarcity, weaponry and competitive elimination allow us to drift towards worldwide elimination, a new species will surely emerge: one that will not be humane. Given our tendency to kill fellow-humans, and great skill in armaments, it is vital that the differences between technical progress and human culture be resolved.