We hear a lot about progress. We hear about progressive policies and progressive attitudes. But how often do we stop and think, what does progress mean? What is the end toward which we are progressing?
We tend to think about progress in one of two ways: in terms of scientific advancement, or in terms of morality. But is that enough?
While every scientific discovery is — by definition — progress, it is progress merely within the field of science, not necessarily progress in a broader sense. For example, consider computer monitors and cell phones. While the world has embraced them unquestioningly, there is a dark side we are only now beginning to understand. A reader sent me this disturbing article about how screens alter our minds and behavior for the worse.* Are screens progress if they make us physically and mentally ill?
A moral definition of progress is even more problematic. Our world is being ripped apart at the seams because about half the population thinks every moral liberalization is progression, while the other half thinks it is regression. Whatever the moral issue is, half of us thinks one solution is heaven and the other half thinks it’s hell.
What does progress mean to you?
(Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons)