“Yet all these upheavals are dwarfed by the most momentous social revolution that ever befell humankind: the collapse of the family and the local community and their replacement by the state and the market” (Harari, p. 355).
I often wonder if by some universal dictate, Humans are meant to be free of suffering. If one looks at the history of the Sapiens, we are driven to make our lives better at the cost of everything around us. The resulting repercussions of these actions often times carry severe consequences. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the reduction of family and the rise of the state. The state, and markets, were able to rise by “promising” us a better life, but the question is who actually experienced that betterment. The argument could be made, that we were gamed by a system designed to create winners and losers, to support itself its continuing acquisition of power. The state may claim it will be there for you, but one does not have to look very deep to see the failures in that support system. As a species, we seemed programmed to respond to a promise of a better way, even if it means sacrificing the proven way.
Historians, along with artists, writers, and other humanists are in a unique position to save us from ourselves. But its far more than just being able to look back on the past. The problems we face are complex, and in many instances, history will not offer an easy answer. What humanists offer is the ability to look at the past and to imagine a different outcome, to offer a vision based on knowledge of where we are coming from, but with a focus on where we might dare to end up. Science has shown the ability to solve big technical issues, but the humanists are the ones who can set the target for that scientific power.