Don’t you think we have come a long way from inventing the wheel? Think about it: a plane is an 18-ton machine that not only can fly in the air, but it can also transport human beings in it. For millenniums, humans could only fly in their imagination, and the air was still dominated by all sorts of birds and bats and bugs. Certainly, some people throughout history tried to make devices and contraptions to allow them to fly, or at least glide (man-carrying kites were actually used in ancient China). Nevertheless, I truly believe that sometimes, we don’t really realise the awe-inspiring things humanity has come to. I’m usually a cynic about human nature, but sometimes I really do get amazed by what we’ve achieved in the fields of science. One recent instance that marked me was when I was flying from Pittsburgh International Airport going towards JFK. As soon as the plane moved, the thought that I was going to, literally, take off from the ground and start flying in mid-air struck me. How is that even possible? I’ve already flown a dozen times before, and yeah I know: physics, but still. We have successfully engineered a machine that can fly for dozens of hours uninterrupted, transporting within it hundreds of people, that can resist heat and cold, and despite having horrible food, takes 99.99999999995% of its passengers home safely. I heard Louis CK joke about it in one of his (brilliant) stand-up comedy performances a few months ago, and I guess his words just lingered in the back of my mind, and he’s darn right. Although I still think we reserve the right to complain if our flight was delayed (since we paid for a flight that was going to be on time), I realised that was simply don’t pay attention to the amazing things that happen around us!
Here’s another example: modern communication. A couple of centuries ago, the only way for a New-World-bound explorer to let his loved ones that he was still alive was to send them letter with travellers on a trade ship, one that actually had very high chances of never making it back. He then would have to wait several months for a reply, provided the letter made it intact to its intended recipients in the first place. And what do we have now? A rectangular device that allows us to speak to any person regardless of their location instantly! Our phones save us the trouble of travelling thousands of miles to speak to the family back home, or the trouble of driving down a couple of blocks to ask our friend what they are up to this evening.
Yes, we obviously have bad apples. We have atomic bombs, dirty weapons, methamphetamine, dubstep, and other atrocities that were the direct result of technological advancement. A lot of humans are still horrible creatures, and we still have long ways to go in preventing the tragic deaths of millions because of treatable diseases, hunger or futile wars and conflicts that arise everyday. We still have major issues such as racism, the exploitation of the poor by the rich, and blatant corruption. Yet, looking at giant cities or imposing works of architecture, I can’t help but feel a sense of awe at what we’ve managed to do. Burj Khalifa is over 800m long; you’d need to walk the distance of 8 entire football (soccer) fields in order to reach the top. It’s not helping hungry children eat lunch though, and the thought of all this money “wasted” does disgust me, but strictly scientifically and architecturally speaking, it’s still amazing.
Some may say that, as long as humanity allows things like setting a bull on fire and toying with it until its death for fun, modern day slavery or blood feuds, we do not have the right to claim to be advanced or superior. And I agree. I do think that, all over the world, millions of people do horrible things everyday. However, I still think that we should give credit when credit is due, and that despite obvious flaws we suffer from, there are scientists, entrepreneurs, activists, researchers, thinkers and generally good people everywhere in the world that really don’t deserve to be associated with the scum of society. This is why I really believe that we still reserve the right to be impressed by what the good ones have done, and, why not, try our best to be one of them.Ps: MashaAllah