Our Time Is a Gift

Image by catmccray/Flickr

Our time is a gift. I worry that we take it for granted. Roughly 73,500 years ago, humans were migrating from Africa towards other parts of our planet. The Sumatera volcano exploded, changing Earth’s climate. All but a few thousand humans perished. Our race nearly ended, due to natural causes.

Our time is a gift.

In the whole of human history, people have never had it this good. In developed countries, many citizens control the climates within their homes and workplaces. We sleep in comfort, away from pests and predators, with plenty of food and pretty good medical care.

Even many of the less fortunate among us have access to public education and transportation, shelter, and enough food to survive.

Today, many eight-year-olds have free access to more information than the most educated leader of generations past. We also have a growing range of tools to help us gather, analyze, understand and act upon this information.

But we forget that change is everywhere, and we lull ourselves into believing that our safe, secure lives will last forever.

Our time is a gift.

My purpose is not to scare you into a cave. It is to remind you that the entire human race has struggled to get us to this point. We have an opportunity – and it may be brief – to make them proud.

We can think of ourselves as a single race united by mutual respect and common purposes. Or we can be selfish clans fighting for dominance while our opportunity ticks away.

We are a resourceful people. I have faith that all problems have solutions, and that our opportunities outweigh our challenges. But there is one thing we must never forget.

Our time is a gift.

We must be humble.

Generation after generation of humans believe they have all the answers. Sadly, many societies hate – and fear – ideas that challenge conventional thinking, the ones that provide a glimpse of what the future will truly be like.

In other words, those visionaries who can actually predict the future tend to be ridiculed, marginalized or murdered.

Just ask Galileo, who was sentenced to lifelong house arrest for promoting the ridiculous idea that the earth revolves around the sun.

Or consider our first American president, who was unfortunate to live in a time when bloodletting was a mainstream medical practice. In 1799, George Washington had a bad sore throat, and in treating this malady doctors drained roughly 125 ounces of Washington’s blood in 24 hours. (He died.)

I guarantee you that some of our mainstream practices will seem equally awful in retrospect; the problem is we don’t know which ones.

Approach life with an open mind. The greater your tendency to argue from a set position, the greater the likelihood that in retrospect you will be viewed as a well-meaning dolt.

Be generous and expert, trustworthy and clear, open-minded and adaptable, persistent and present.

Our time is a gift. Act that way.