52 WEEKS

Week 20— Why Things Get Better

It seems impossible

52 Weeks
3 min readNov 21, 2021

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A lot of people say the world is going to hell. Things ain’t what they used to be.

Kids today!

I’ll bet you they were saying the same crap back in the CAVE.

But what if they’re right? What if things really are going to hell?

There’s certainly enough evidence for it.

Do you remember those Civil War letters? These young kids…. small-town cannon fodder… and they’re writing letters, on a battlefield, that read today like they were written by some community college professor.

Could their modern equivalent write so well, under those circumstances?

No way.

I remember back in high school, every time a senior class graduated, it was all over for the football team, or musical, or whatever.

And what is the yearbook going to do without Carol?

The juniors never seemed to be as good as the seniors they were replacing.

If all that’s true, the human race should have been doomed centuries ago.

But it’s not. If anything, the human race keeps getting better.

75 years ago we were exterminating people in Germany. 150 years ago we had slavery. We also don’t burn people at the stake anymore.

People keep getting better. Society keeps getting better.

But how??

If things ain’t what they used to be… and literacy’s taken a hit… and the yearbook is screwed without Carol, how could things be getting better?

Why aren’t they just slowly getting worse?

WHY THINGS GET BETTER

Things get better because every year, we learn from the year before. Young people have older people to learn from. That’s a huge advantage. Can you imagine if we’d have had ourselves to learn from? That’d be like getting a second chance at life from the beginning.

We get better individually… we get older and wiser… and we get better collectively… because each generation learns from the one before.

It’s like a double whammy of good.

Granted, we don’t get better in a straight line. It’s more like a zig-zag. Two steps forward, one step back. Or maybe it’s 100 little steps forward, one BIG step back?

I don’t know. I’m not a mathematician.

I think a lot of times when an older person talks about the “good old days,” he’s talking about his good old days. Maybe HE was better (or had it better) back then, but WE are definitely better today.

And we’ll be even better tomorrow, because we’ll have had today to learn from!

You know, as I get older (and my self-interests kick in), I notice we don’t listen to older people as much as we should.

I didn’t listen to older people when I was younger, and I paid the price for it. Thought I knew every damn thing. Older people would tell me I didn’t know everything.

We think older people’s experiences aren’t relevant because all the details are so different.

But details are just… details.

The core concepts, those stay the same.

We should always listen to people who have been there/done that… including people who screwed up a lot.

I mean, why make our own mistakes, when we can learn from someone else’s?

AFTERTHOUGHT

A father and son are having an argument. It’s getting pretty heated. Finally, the father says, “Wait a second, let me ask you a question. Do you know more NOW than you did five years ago?” And the son says, “Well, yeah.” And the father says, “Do you know as much NOW as you will in 5 years?” And the son says, “No.” And the father says, “Well, then shut up!”

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