We Improve but we do not Progress

[an essay by   ~burning woman~  ]

Time, or the lack thereof, has become my enemy. Of course I realize that from the larger picture, time is not relevant, but I also realize that as a physical entity possessed of an Earthian body, I have to reckon with the time constraint, a real pain! I exist in a mental cage, a Matrix-designed prison in which no “greater thought” is meant to exist. Time, or what Earthians like to call past-present-future, controls thought, awareness, expectations. Nothing here is expected to exist outside of time – that would be unthinkable. Think, how important have time-measuring devices been throughout man’s various attempts at defining itself through his so-called “civilizations.”

It is possible, however, for some of us to push our mental awareness through the bars of the time jail and see from infinity. It’s a bit like traveling several magnitude beyond the speed of light (time and light being artificially tied together in the Matrix) and feeling the mind stretch as she pushes out into the past in order to see the future she is going into – not, as is popularly believed, creating. I do not create the future (there is no such thing as “my” future – not yet!) but it is possible for me to see it take shape if I make the effort to “see” and understand some of the past, that which I have already experienced, forgot about and now must learn to recover in order to make use of.

The real past does not exist within the artificial boundaries imposed by an equally artificial time machine. It certainly does not exist in any “historical” recording, those being even less meaningful in terms of understanding what a human being was/will be. Only a recovered once-traveled and experienced past can have meaning.

I used to be fascinated by history, my favourite subject in high school and I kept on reading and studying history long after I escaped the academic world. Then I came to certain realizations about reality, what it is, what it isn’t. Man’s recorded history became about as valid as using Monopoly money to purchase goods and services: there was a credibility gap that could not be breached. Man’s history, the collectively remembered and the recorded, was not so much a lie as pointless. Pointless as an exercise in recording it, even more so in reading it.

How did I arrive at that? Simple: nothing, absolutely nothing, is learned from history and nothing is gained by having some knowledge of it. It is irrelevant. What is relevant is what I can personally “remember” of what I experienced of past events, how those changed me and re-made me and how, as I collected that awareness, it opened the only trustworthy and meaningful window on a future that my remembrances gave me to look out of.

This will be the third time that I have read Stephen Donaldson’s science fiction “Gap” series. The title of this “essay” is taken from book 4, Chaos and Order: the Gap into Madness. “We improve, but we do not progress.” I imagine that for a programmed entity, such a thought is, well, unthinkable. How could we not progress if we are improving?

The question is, what do we mean by improving, or do we even have a clue what it could mean? What does it mean, for an intelligent, sentient, self-aware being, to “improve”? Does it mean that as a society, better put as a civilization, we are palpably, noticeably improving, in keeping with our claim to be living on a human scale? Does it mean we are improving in terms of developing “new and improved” human values, as individuals?

Yes, technologically we are undeniably improving. Many of the things we surround ourselves with today and take for granted would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

But aren’t we existing as characters in a series of Marvel Comic books? Aren’t we in fact using Monopoly money to go shopping in our improved world? How meaningful to us as human being are any of our improvements? What are these improvements doing to us? Are they not stealing our minds and locking us in our “now” mental jail?

What is progress? What would it mean to progress? Wouldn’t progress mean becoming better people overall? More aware of our environment, of others? More eager to ensure that as we “improve” we are adding to the overall betterment of this world and all who live and exist on and within, it? Wouldn’t progress mean that we are breaking free of our killing rat race and our insane repetition of acts we time and again performed then swore we would never do again? Wouldn’t progress mean we strove to become more human by demonstrating our desire to display the quality of humaneness towards all life?

I will tell you, once again, what my window into the future is showing me. Think of the current baby pandemic called Covid 19, make it real and multiply that a million times. I see horror upon horror building up exponentially until the entire world is awash in desperation, violence, bloodshed and a total loss of humanity or humane expression. I see the utter end of this civilization and everything that made it possible – people and systems.

But then, at the end of all improvement, I see progress. A new beginning, none of it predicated on the old. I can see this future because I can see the past beyond historical/hysterical fake news and beyond collective memories.

16 thoughts on “We Improve but we do not Progress

  1. jim-

    Those that don’t learn history are destined to repeat it. And it appears that those that do learn history are destined to repeat it too. We live and re-live what we focus on.
    I agree and disagree a little too. Knowing history and tendencies of human nature (haha) were important for true statesman to draft a free government. A new way at looking at the world is challenging even for the best ideas to be consistent.
    I see the US as a laughable situation at times. People from all over the world are criticizing our government, yet pulling for us at the same time in hopes that we can get it right.
    Chief insights Sha’Tara. Nice work.

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    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks Jim. I’ll try to “coagulate” a response for you and Frank. First I have to go over that essay to see if I could have made my point a bit clearer. I obviously failed in pulling the reader out of the “normal” rut and out into a different kind of mental fresh air. I too could go on about a plethora of “improvements” to how some, in some cases most, people experience life today. But that wasn’t the point. It wasn’t even an attack on civilization in general but a reminder that we, all of us, all better than our systems allow us to be and consequently better than we allow ourselves to be. I’ll get back to this, have to run right now, COVID or no COVID!

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    2. Sha'Tara Post author

      I re-read your comment and see where the tracks switch off on separate tangents. At least this one time I wasn’t making any overt or covert snide comments about “America”. The intent was to demonstrate the need, or the value, of stepping out of the program box and really look at the flow of life; to dare think that we are much more, than we allow ourselves to believe. Unless we take our place seriously in the process of life as we experience it there isn’t any difference between the person who lives by faith in a divine saviour and one who believes that life consists of being born, going through the motions of “living” for a few decades according to luck of the draw then dying with nothing left to show for one’s passage except perhaps a few quickly fading memories or maybe some book or some societal memento for some particular accomplishment which the System decided to recognize. Both stances demonstrate the “dead-endedness” of pre-programmed existence. In both cases nothing can be learned on any meaningful long-term basis. This is the lie I insist on exposing even if no one believes in a believable, viable, third option: that we are eternal beings; that we have access to the cosmos in infinity; that we can awaken and remember who we are.
      Our type of life only gains traction when we stop giving it away to some great void empty of meaning, be it God or annihilation. When we give our life away by faith or acceptance we become traitors to ourselves first of all, and to all those others we choose to fail, or to mislead. That is the great tragedy in accepting the either-or of an infamous lie.

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  2. franklparker

    I agree with Jim: “Those that don’t learn history are destined to repeat it. And it appears that those that do learn history are destined to repeat it too.”
    As for progress and improvement, your questions: “Wouldn’t progress mean becoming better people overall? More aware of our environment, of others? More eager to ensure that as we “improve” we are adding to the overall betterment of this world and all who live and exist on and within, it?”
    I would answer that we have and we are, most of us. I certainly feel enormously lucky to have lived in the second half of the 20th century with free health care for all, a welfare safety net for the unemployed, subsidised housing for the poor, cures for many of the killer diseases of the past, among other things. It’s a long way from perfect, for sure, and there are people trying to tear it down, but the radicals and activists continue to resist as they have always done, learning from the mistakes of their predecessors in history.

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    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Hi Frank! Hopefully my second reply to Jim will explain why I write the things I do. Yes, certainly in the “lucky” West, the last century plus a bit has been better, physically and materially speaking for many people than in centuries past, despite two world wars and a lot of political and economic roller-coaster rides. The problem as we can all see now is that the more people (in the non-West, still grossly exploited Third World particularly) insist on jumping on the technologically improved bandwagon, the more dangerous the stress applied to our supporting environment and much of the supporting man-made and maintained infrastructure that defines our civilization. In other words what we are engaged in is completely unsustainable, hence why many pundits, not all of them conspiracy theorists, are speaking of an extinction event for mankind. Our “improvements” have had a very high cost for billions of helpless individuals throughout a forcefully exploited world and we honestly cannot call it progress without insulting millions of victims of our capitalism and imperialism. That’s the reality, and the burden of the First World in the last 2-300 years, Frank.

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  3. Hyperion

    Another well written message tying history and time to our current state, Sha’Tara. I too am a student of history but I don’t subscribe to the thought we shouldn’t repeat history. We definitely should repeat history because the entire universe to include earth is based on cyclic events. For instance, the seasons of every year since the dawn of humans has repeated as well as night and day. The cyclic nature of humans also means that as we go forward in time we recycle our past. I will admit that these cycles don’t remain stationary but more like a wheel going down the road. Every time a specific spot on the wheel touches the road it is further down the path and a certain amount of time has transpired but it is the same wheel and it will stay in its original purpose until it is worn out and replaced by a new wheel. What rarely changes is human nature and so that human nature passed on to every generation will follow it’s nature tho the world has changed, the environment has changed, but human nature remains the same, we simply adapt to our living conditions whether that be environmental or technological or both. We will go to war with new weapons and the same tactics used for 1000 years. It’s just my belief that progress and improvement of the species has not occurred because our nature has not changed. In fact, I would argue we are so biologically polluted we are devolving instead of evolving. Go there to those helix coils and break the chains of no longer needed human traits of emotion, survival, companionship, and breeding. Break the need for self actualization and search for meaning in a meaningless existence. Burn out the desire for adventure, discovery, and growth of personal wealth by any means. It’s all possible. It could be done today. We have the means to turn ourselves into passive sheep where we can walk past hubris and suffering unaffected. We will feel no need to bind together. Life and death will occur without meaning or consequence. Our numbers will shrink until humans are a rarity on the planet and the earth can slowly heal itself of the horrendous scars and memory of our footprint on the planet. We can do this today or starting tomorrow at 8:00am at hundreds of labs across the world. We don’t now because that solution frightens even the most courageous heart. Without that courage to take control we are doomed in every imaginable way and in some ways unimaginable. If we look to the distant past at those species on the planet that five times were wiped out and what preceded next, can we reasonable believe that a mass extinction, which is currently in full swing as I write this, isn’t going to affect the human population? Extinctions are historical cycles. Why do we think they won’t repeat even as the evidence shows it is happening now. Well, the first thing that must change is how the human mind can not grasp reality that is pure and unadulterated. Our minds are drugs that make up the most far fetched realities and that Is what we believe is true and real. That is why we are doomed. That is why our only hope is to go to those helix coils and change them. We know how. If we do that we will change history and the next cycles will be far different. Are you game?

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    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      What a comment!!! I think this is worthy of a reblog as an article in itself… but it needs some editing to break up the points you bring up into separate sections. If I find the time I will do that and email you the result for approval. Time… I need time! (I have your email address)

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      1. Hyperion

        That is quite an honor although the editing task may be monstrous trying break my stream of consciousness writing into coherent language, but if any one can do it, you can Sha’Tara. It will also be an honor to collaborate with you on the subject of history and time. I look forward to it.

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  4. George F.

    History is written by the victors which is why, the more you study it, the more you realize it’s one big lie. What’s the point, indeed? Improvement, in our current system of capitalism, means hoarding more cash. Do away with that “business model” and one day improvement may mean helping, caring and becoming more empathetic to the souls that are actually born. And why do we keep repeating History, as Hype suggests? Could it be Karma? Do you have to keep coming back until repeating the same mistakes until we finally learn?

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    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      I’m beginning to seriously question the concept of karma – I don’t think there is such a thing. Every day I become more convinced that “we” won’t learn until we face our controllers and cancel out of their programming. That’s the key element to understanding our behaviour: programming which in turn prevents us from discovering the truth, that freedom comes only through self empowerment and that comes through self determination… or is it vice-versa??? Sometimes I think we are AI’s living in a computer simulation and if we broke out of our programming we could then achieve our next level of “evolution” which is becoming human, meaning we would then be empowered to live humane and compassionate lives. I cannot imagine a more wonderful state of beingness, at least not on this world.

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  5. Regis Auffray

    Stark, harsh, and real; this is a sobering article for sure. I appreciate the “spark of hope” at the close of your essay. Thank you for sharing, Sha’Tara.

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  6. sherazade

    Siamo vittime oggi del Progresso ormai da tempo ci ha impedito di vedere l’essenziale che come recita quel piccolo gioiello che è il libro ‘Il piccolo principe’ : ” L’essenziale è invisibile agli occhi”.
    Il progresso non è Impedire di vivere una morte umana Ma curare la vita fino a dove è umanamente possibile, scusa il bisticcio di parole. Corsi e ricorsi storici questa pandemia creerà dolore e morte. Ci induce a credere che finito tutto Saremo migliori Ma io non credo.
    Bellissima riflessione Sha ‘Tara,. Scusa la mia pochezza.

    Roma, l’Italia sono blindate. Ip a casa come è richiesto. Chissà.

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  7. Pingback: Are You Game? | ~Burning Woman~

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