Experience and Expectations – For Better or Worse

Hi Readers.  Thanks for coming by.

Humanity’s had a change of heart, expectation-wise, the past few centuries.  Most of us have gotten into the habit of believing everything’s going to get better, one generation to the next.  Which is contrary to the overall historical human experience.

Fact is, once humans organized themselves a step up from savages or barbarians, things usually stayed pretty much the same for the average person.  Sure, the wash and waves added here, subtracted there, but things just didn’t vary enough to notice over the long haul.

Doesn’t much matter where they lived.  Society arranged itself into aristocrats, living as comfortably as they could manage, and peasants/slaves, struggling to get by and keeping the aristocrats in cannon-fodder, food, affluence.

Hundreds, maybe thousands of generations of peasants in Asia, Europe, some of the Americas, some of Africa, muddling along not expecting anything different to pop up to improve things for them.  Maybe more rain, maybe less, maybe the local lord or baron wouldn’t hatch any schemes involving warfare, higher takes of their crops.  Maybe they’d be as warm and no hungrier next year as this.  Peasants didn’t expect to become aristocrats.

And generally the aristocrats didn’t expect any widespread changes, either.  Maybe they’d pick the right side in a fracas or intrigue, get control of more land or peasants, but no general improvements for aristocrats.  No general decline.  Aristocrats didn’t expect to become peasants.

That’s how human society has functioned throughout history once complex social organization came along.  Wasn’t until technology opened things up a bit, the Americas became accessible with a lot of land to take away from the folks who were there, then Africa and Australia, that a wedge was driven into the potential for peasants to become aristocrats.

For a few lifetimes things got better for the average human all over the world.  Got better even for the aristocrats.  And everyone came to expect things to continue to get better.  Lost the old habit of just hoping they wouldn’t get worse.

If stability and general affluence had anything to do with the goals of human beings it might have been possible.  Making sure people everywhere got fed, stayed as warm and healthy as conditions allowed.  Might have been done if it were a priority for anyone, but it never was.

Because human beings have a long history of telling what they expect from life by their actions.  And those actions have nothing at all to do with improving the lives of people beyond the range of whatever they find advantageous to call ‘we’.

Inevitably, this probably means the warp and weave of human expectations will re-stabilize to something more akin to the past.  To things generally staying the same, or getting worse, generation-to-generation.  With the average person just trying to hang on, hoping things won’t get worse.

And the human cadre of aristocrats not much giving a damn whether they get worse for the peasantry, so long as it doesn’t get worse for themselves.

There’s a strong argument to be made it’s how we like it.  How we want it.  How we’ve always wanted it.

Old Jules

6 responses to “Experience and Expectations – For Better or Worse

  1. You’re absolutely right, if “we” wanted things to change we’d change them.

  2. SprinklinThoughts

    Agreed. Except for one thing – in the process we’re destroying the very thing that our lives depend upon. So although “we” don’t want things to change, they are about to… drastically.

    • SprinklinThoughts: Likely things will change drastically, though even for those expecting it likely the changes will come as a surprise. What’s outside the range our our personal experiences doesn’t internalize easily from the imagination. But human beings are adaptable as a species and some will get by, I reckons. Gracias, J

  3. SprinklinThoughts


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