We do live in extraordinarily interesting times to over exaggerate the Chinese curse. On a day to day level life has never been more secure even in some of the most desperate parts of the earth. Longevity is increasing everywhere daily. Some of the worst banes of human history are fading into its dimmer annals. The really unpleasant reminders of disease, risk and mortality are the more irksome for their exceptional persistence in the face of so much progress.
As we all know intuitively, these clear and totally desirable advances do not tell the entire story. Psychologists inform us that fear of loss is stronger than hope of gain. Sadly, our reactions validate the sentiments. These gut feelings are deeply rooted in atavistic irrationality, but irrationality that compels us to fight for survival. The evidence also tells us that survival is more important from nature’s point of view than pretty much anything else. Our genetic endowment would prefer that we hang around long enough to reproduce and raise our young than be happy or have a realistic grasp on reality itself. The best philosophy, science or culture overall can do for us is to ground us in the basics and provide enough opportunity to enjoy ourselves now and then as a practical release of stress. Stress after all and definitely after a certain point is a risk factor that threatens nature’s design for our species.
Wait a minute, did I say design?