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Modern arrogance

Columnist Marc Legare writes about our modern world and how it compares to the past
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A Distant View

Marc Legare is a philosopher and motorcycle adventurist.

He has travelled extensively, worked and lived in Australia, US, and across Canada.

He has a varied working career including: Firefighter, Lawyer, Navy, Motorcycle Importer, plus others.

He chose to return to southern Saskatchewan because of his family's deep roots here.

As a columnist, Legare's columns will offer food for thought.  

We live in a world unlike any other in human history. We hold the idea that our existence has departed from the ways and behaviours of our ancestors. Our new and improved scientific minds are unlike theirs and our new-aged thinking has moved us out of the stone age. Fact is, it depends on how we look at it or what we are looking at.

When navel gazing at our considerable advancements, it is easy to look at previous humans and see them as cavepeople by one standard or another. For example, we travel around the world in a day or two without much thought or concern. It was not so terribly long ago when humans didn't know or believe such a trip was possible, lest they fall off the end of the earth into the abyss. Painting a picture on that canvas, it is easy to puff up our chests and strut with pride at our heady transformation.

However, another sketch can be drawn. There is a great deal of current thinking and behaving that looks eerily similar to our so-called "primitive" forebearers.
Let's consider a very old list of human characteristics; the seven deadly sins. Can we remember them? In case we have forgotten, they are pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth. We do not have to look very far to recognize all seven are still solidly entrenched in ourselves in spite of that list being written before the dark ages.

Violence and war still haunt this planet, just as it has since time immemorial. Our weapons are different, but violence itself is still a main part of human life. Being killed by a spear or by a guided missile has the same end result and it is the same fundamental activity; humans killing humans. 

Slavery is another telling example. Estimates place the number of slaves today at around 36 to 48 million. The new term for it is called "neo-slavery". That has a modern ring to it, but people are still owning people. 

Negative sexual behaviors still abound. Rape, child sexual abuse, prostitution, and sexual enslavement are still happening in modern times regardless of our new and improved selves. 

Lying, cheating, stealing, manipulating, and a plethora of other negatives are daily occurrences, just as they were for humans past. 

Our fancy machines and lightning-fast electronic world that radiates evidence of our ingenuity makes us appear godlike. Take away that glittering backdrop however, examine the hearts and actions of modern humanity, and we discover we are not very far removed from our caveman relatives.

Some may argue we are a great deal worse. We have no more excuses such as hard living, or not having enough to go around. Our technological tools have provided a life of relative leisure and awareness. We have more time and energy to devote to dealing with our negative human behaviours. Are we using that time wisely? Are we not spending too much time playing with our new electronic toys and basking in our own glory rather than rooting out and dealing with our fundamental flaws? 

We love to pat ourselves on the back and high-five our glorious illustrious modern show-off lives. The bare bones fact is that virtually all of our negative human traits have not changed one iota. Who we are at our core is absolutely the same as our predecessors and we have no reason or right to suggest we are in any way superior. 

Before we let our self-admiration roam free, we would do well to ponder the  words of Friedrich Nietzsche, "Arrogance on the part of the meritorious is even more offensive than the arrogance of those without merit; for merit itself is offensive".

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.