I started out a few minutes ago – before I opened up this old psychology book and found this quote I’m about to explain as ‘sadly-ironic-scary’ – thinking: what can I do right now (it’s past one a.m. and I should be getting to sleep, but I know I’ve got it in me to do something intellectual) to give me a better future. But then I realized: Wow, I should not have been worrying so much about my own better future; rather I should be worrying about the future of all people (and, our friends, the “creatures”) and our blessed earth; we walk on (the same sphere). Anyway, this quote reads as follows: “The development of the precise symbolic systems of algebra and calculus, for example, has greatly increased our ability to control our environment.”
To the author, to anyone, I reply, “What real good is the knowledge of algebra or calculus when the problem we are trying to solve is how to undo all the damage we have already done to this earth?” Not saying math is bad for the soul. A rambunctious, young me once wrote, “There is only one answer…” “blah blah blah” “blah blah blah” some more… yet, maybe there’s a kernel of truth to what I tried to state as categorical fact. [one answer, and that is] start living the way people did in the past – live off the earth; do not abuse the land; take only what it gives you. Do not waste; do not overconsume – but it’s too late for that!
So I say this is ironic: we were able to advance so far as to develop this complex understanding of the universal systems we call ‘math,’ but at the same time as that was going on, there was also the problem of us getting further and further away from living the types of lifestyles that tribesmen and women lived before us. They were more simplistic, ascetic. Usually a nomadic or hunter-gathering tribe of family and vagabond people, with cooperation, structure and indeed love for community as their social norms. What do we have?
A couple paragraphs I offer as a little prompt to think back about when people carried only sticks, stones and other 100% natural, “worldy possesions.”