With great intelligence, men of science have been forcing nature to disclose her secrets. The immense resources now being harnessed promise such a quantity of material blessings that many have come to believe that a man-made millennium lies just ahead. Poverty will disappear, and there will be such abundance that everybody can have all the security and personal satisfaction he desires. The theory seems to be that once everybody’s primary instincts are satisfied, there won’t be much left to quarrel about. The world will turn happy and be free to concentrate on culture and character. Solely by their own intelligence and labor, men will have shaped their own destiny.
Without looking ahead in the book, I’m afraid I may comment on what comes next. But so what? Thirty years of studying this stuff (off and on!) should not be for naught.
First I have to say that I find the sexism AWFUL. I know, a product of his times, blah blah blah. How I WISH he had been more enlightened. My daughter just graduated, becoming and official “woman of science.” Ah well.
Anyway, the millennium lying just ahead where everyone’s material needs are taken care of is painfully not just ahead. I wonder if he believed that. We are sadly aware that although there may be enough of everything to go around, it will take more than 1000 years for people to evolve to where they actually share. We also know the people of this world find plenty to quarrel about, for a long time after they have everything they need.
I can go ahead with the premise, though, because as I’ve written many times, my physical needs have always been taken care of in that every single day of my life, I have had all I need materially to survive, and much, much more. I have had food and clean water, heat and medical care, sufficient for my needs and for those of my family. So, since basic survival has never been a problem for me, have I been free to concentrate on culture and character?
I think that I have been largely free to do so. Many many of my hours on earth have been spent taking care of the primary needs of other people who can’t do this for themselves. I work with people with severe disabilities and sometimes it’s as elemental as giving water to someone who can’t get it for himself. I find this fulfilling, but I’m also very privileged to be able to do it. Many people who live in circumstances that are close to mine are unable to do this because you really can’t support a family doing this here, at this time.
I’ve written as a form of pleasurable “art” for as long as I can remember. I’ve worked, to some degree, on my character. Most of that work has been done in AA and, to a lesser degree, in church. It was there, though, before AA. It’s something someone born in my time and place would do. As the steps and my history make clear, though, this character building has almost always come at the price of terrible pain.
It’s interesting to me to think about this a little. I am free, really, to focus on culture and character. And I am in pain. Not terrible or unbearable pain, not yet. So, can I work on my character building to alleviate it without riding this elevator to the “bottom?” A thought that has crossed my mind is that maybe after all this time in the program and all the work I’ve done till now, my elevator just doesn’t go as low as it used to. Maybe I’ve actually raised the bottom on my personal experiences. Can it be that I have, but I still so vividly recall those low low emotional bottoms that I still think I can be headed there?
I must think about this and one other saying that comes to mind as I contemplate my metaphorical elevator.
The elevator to sobriety is broken. Please use the STEPS.