I have thought about writing this blog for a while, thought about how I would frame it and what I would say. It is hard for us to look at ourselves in the ‘NOW’ and to judge how history will reflect how we lived our lives and the type of society we allowed to develop. Will it reflect a time of personal greed over community growth? Will it reflect a time when intellectual pursuit was shunned over wealth creation? Or will it show a development in our social evolution through social media that is equivalent to Gutenburg in 1450?
Now I am no historian, I did study History in UCC but let’s be honest that qualifies me more for drinking tea and playing cards then social commentary. However I am from Cork so I suppose that is equivalent of a PHD from Harvard so I’ll give it a go…
As I said above this topic has been floating around my head for a while. One of the things that keeps it there is my obsession with monarchy, not just the British royals but the remnants of this old world system all across Europe. I just can’t get my head around monarchy as a concept and why citizens want to hold on to them. I was at a conference in Denmark last year and had dinner with a group made up of Dutch, Swedish and Danish people and I asked them were they monarchists or did they feel it was an outdated institution? To a man and women they all felt that although flawed their royals had a place in theirs and their respective country’s lives.
I followed this up by asking what place that was? This is where it got interesting as they all agreed that as Head of State the royals had a role as ambassadors for their country and cultures. I argued that their elected Presidents and other officials of their democratically elected government fulfilled this role and they agreed but felt that yes there was still a place for their royals. I asked why they were happy to pay taxes to a family who were not elected, could not be removed and were only there because of coercion, violence and force in centuries past. They did feel that maybe they got too much money and that those outside of the King/Queen and crown Prince/Princess should have to work like everyone else.
I was just as confused. Maybe it is because the Irish monarchic system was quashed so successfully by the colonial British, but I have no attachment to this concept or institution. I have spent a lot of time (not so much that it gets in the way of my life, I’m not that boring I swear) wondering what daily life is like for these royals. Do they truly believe they are God’s appointed rulers etc and do they honestly believe that the terra firma and those on it are their possessions? Surely not, surely in 2013 they know what they are; a remnant of an ancient corrupt institution, essentially a posh mafia who have eked out a niche in the market for ‘The Family’
So why am I ranting about royals in this conversation about where we are in our social evolution? Well it is because I would argue that we living in a time of change just like the middle ages. A time of flux that will herald a new age of enlightenment (wha?). If you take the first millennia AD we saw the end of the old empires and the birth of organised religion as a force in our daily lives. The second millennia AD saw the growth of feudalism and the harnessing of religious power for State/Monarchy/Family interests and control. Then we could argue that this, the third millennia AD should see the next step in our social evolution and what will that be?
The end of each era saw a period where old systems die out and new ones are born and I wonder are we in that time now. As a society we are moving away from physical community to virtual community. We are moving away from the social responsibility to individual advancement. I am not arguing that this is either bad or good I am simply saying this is a natural occurrence in our evolution as a species. I suppose like most things historic nostalgia adds a gilded view but I do feel that in times past we had a greater focus on the hero, the thinker and great idea then we do today.
Now don’t get me wrong I realise that the development of the micro-chip and all things technology will be the driving force of our next social evolutionary step. I also realise that these developments will create a different society peopled with a different population who will be comfortable with all there surrounds. But I am being selfish, because I feel I am sitting in that middle period, I would prefer us to have hero’s both intellectual and societal who are not just celebrities who have no talent but the ability to promote themselves. Maybe I need to go to a Codor-Dojo class and dive knew deep into this technological revolution (pity I am a devout CTRL-ALT-Delete man).
However, I am a believer in active citizenship and that is where I will try and have an impact. Offline and in our communities, working to ensure that I keep the interests of others close to my own, to keep a balance between personal gain and the community around me. If we all do a little more of this then maybe we won’t be looked back on by history as the ‘Dark Ages’ of our next social evolutionary leap.
Then again maybe I am just waffling (it’s not unlike me to be fair…) I’d be interested to know what you think!