a short review on "a short history of progress"

"Many of the great ruins that grace the deserts and jungles of the earth are monuments to progress traps, the headstones of civilizations which fell victim to their own success. In the fates of such societies – once mighty, complex, and brilliant – lie the most instructive lessons...they are fallen airliners whose black boxes can tell us what went wrong."

                                                                                   —A Short History of Progress, p 8


If you're looking for a great short read, look no further than A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright. The book starts with the beginning of man kind progressing all the way to current day. I felt that Wright did a fantastic job with the writing in that he gave just enough background and supportive information for the readings to be informative while not being overwhelming. Many of the points are annotated in the back should one be interested in any further reading. 

The main argument Wright proposes is a call for change stemmed from patterns of trouble from the past. He goes inter several examples of early prominent civilizations such as the Rapa Nui of the Easter Islands and Ancient Greece. Both civilizations were once flourishing, however they ultimately depleted themselves. They could see that there was only one tree left, and they cut it down anyways as Wright wrote in his book. The end was near and minimal effort was made to avoid it. Short sighted pleasures were favoured over long term successes in the case of these civilizations. 

Fast forward to today and I feel like little has changed. Sure many are making a greater effort and correcting past mistakes since theres so much scientific evidence out these theres days, but many more are quite passive about it and remain short sighted. Many have the mind set of "Oh, by the time that happens I'll be long gone!", but what about the future generations of your family, friends and so fourth? Progress for the most part is a great thing. I for one am all for the progression of ones self, however, not all progress should be thought of as equal. For example, hunting, created a new means to acquire food. It's faster, easier, and offers more variety, but with many things, it can and was abused and has lead to the extinction of many species. I believe life can be very cyclical and while I'm not going to be a preacher on saving the world I do believe that we can make a greater effort with saving ourselves. 


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Wilson Lau

Photographer of weddings, and people alike.