Empathy for Our Ancestors

Western modern culture has a precarious disdain and a perilous disregard towards those who came before us. A tiresome and treacherous signaling of fabricated and unearned virtue. Born in the privileged life of Western academia. Infecting all our institutions and teaching our children terrible mistruths. Robbing them of the hard-earned wisdom of those who came before, mistakenly believing “we know better.”

Primitive, superstitious and ignorant humans because they are not us. The most self-consumed and narcissistic culture in human history. A false belief whose faulty premise is simply because of where we born in time. Never once thinking we’ll be judged by future generations. Generations who will undoubtedly see us as primitive, superstitious and ignorant people because they are not us.

Having the retrospect of time, they will discover our erroneous beliefs about medicine and science or the way we treated and mistreated one another. Wondering aloud why we let a fortunate minority increase their wealth and power while the majority of humanity suffers. It’s easy to be a Monday quarterback when you didn’t participate in Sundays competition.

Like the vast majority of modern Americans, I have lived a privileged life. Never having faced day-to-day and year-to-year existential challenges like having enough food, clean water or safe shelter. Past people living under an ongoing threat of being devoured by predators or consumed by diseases that no longer threaten us.

I am the recipient of their pursuit of wisdom and knowledge. Courageous men and women who confronted their own fears as they journeyed into new and unknown spaces and places. Like parents who sacrifice everything to provide their children with a better future. My lifestyle of comfort and convenience are the unearned rewards of my ancestors sacrifice.

Instead of recognizing and honoring everything we have been given, the West is infected with a bitter and self-destructive condescension for our predecessors. Hating those who came before us because they don’t share our “enlightened” points of view concerning pronouns and politics or sex and skepticism. Because are predecessors are not perfect like us, their ethical specks are clear even if we are blind to the lumber of injustice we have created.

Just condemnation of past slave owners while ignoring current day corporate slavery. Politically correct and eco-friendly brands who only exist to generate money at the expense of other people and the planet; just not “our people.” Slave labor to assemble pricey electronic gadgets that’ll be buried forever in a landfall when the latest model is released. An ongoing cycle of waste. Powered by batteries whose minerals are scraped out of the earth by children; just not “our children.”

Corrupt and bitter leaders of Western institutions (education, medicine and government,) indoctrinating young adults, teenagers and children with a hatred of self and of others. Not only towards our predecessors who have given us so much, but towards those that are deemed phobic and ists. Homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, sexists, racists, or ableists. Easy pronouncements to express sitting behind a keyboard in your climate-controlled chamber or when you benefit financially from dividing people.

We’re told that those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it. But the real risk is losing our ancestors hard earned gains. Advances that built the modern world and a lifestyle we take for granted. A lifestyle that gives us the time and the means to condemn not only one another but our ancestors. Charity, like empathy, starts at home. Humility, like empathy, starts in our hearts.