3 min read

There Has Never Been a Better Time to Be Alive

Whether you are gifted, average, or struggling, this is humanity’s Golden Age
Woman’s eyes looking out of a gold foil background
The Golden Age is here | Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash

Greetings friends!

Despite the deafening chorus of complaints, I suggest right now is the best time for the average person to be alive.

That’s because we enjoy more health, wealth, and leisure than at any time in human history.

The present is not just the best time for the great mass of humanity, it’s also the best for those at the top and bottom of the spectrum of human performance.

  • Society handsomely rewards the gifted (and lucky) for their contributions. It has never been so easy or lucrative to innovate and take risks.
  • For all those who struggle, support systems have never been so extensive or generous.

How Come It Doesn’t Seem Golden?

I understand today’s society doesn’t seem great to everyone reading.

When I write about sustainability and culture, I get heartfelt comments from disaffected people who feel they aren’t living up to their potential, or being properly rewarded for their efforts.

What these comments demonstrate is that some people confuse their personal experiences with how the larger world works, as in:

I had a hard time at work and didn’t get ahead, so capitalism sucks, all businesses are evil, and we should tax the rich out of existence.

To be fair, I’m certain my own beliefs are molded by having experienced success in the same system my commenters deplore. It’s just as obvious to me that capitalism works a treat.

A Thought Experiment to Clear the Fog

If we cannot resolve the question by looking at anecdotal evidence, how about using the following thought experiment instead?

Assume the place and circumstances of your birth are unknown, but you get to choose the time period

You can pick an era of human history to be born into, sometime in the last 10,000 years.

But you do not know where on earth you will be, or what will be your gender, race, socioeconomic status, etc.

You want a good life, which we’ll define as follows:

  • You desire to live a long, healthy life, in which you have access to plentiful food and the opportunity to do things that fulfill you.
  • You do not want to be at significant risk of dying from either natural disasters or at the hand of your fellow humans.

What era of human history do you choose to be born into?

Remember, you don’t know where on Earth you’ll be, so you can’t choose, for example, Rome or Athens at their peaks, or any country at all. Only the time period.

And in case you’re suffering mental anguish caused by existential fear of Cause X (a new ice age, acid rain, pornography, forest fires, climate change, nuclear Armageddon, trans athletes, Commies, etc.), I’ve got bad news for you.

A person who suffers such anguish would suffer it in any era. Only the cause would vary.

  • In ancient times, it would have been fear of “Chariot hand,” tainted olive oil, or your slaves rising up against you.
  • In the Middle Ages, you would have had sleepless nights worrying about witchcraft, the bubonic plague, or eternal damnation from having eaten fish that one time.

Right now doesn’t look bad compared to every other time in human history

The post-WWII era has been a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity in human history.

In terms of child mortality, medical advances, life expectancy, economic growth, literacy, or deaths from murder, famine, or natural disasters. Along many, many dimensions, humanity is thriving.

If you would pick a different era, which would it be and why?

Be well.

If you like exercising your brain cells from time to time, remember that all work and no play is also counterproductive. To stay in optimal balance, read more here.

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I posted a version of this article on Medium originally.