The opinion piece by Urban Lehner in the Sept. 23 WLJ (History’s biggest fraud) concerning a book by Yuval Noah Harari deserves comment. Mr. Lehner, Mr. Harari, you and I were born in a very unique time. It is, perhaps the greatest peak of human experience.
We now know about other times, we know about other places in society than those we can observe directly, and there is so much to learn! A little research shows Mr. Lehner must be near the pinnacle of an era that offers safety, abundance, stimulation and knowledge. Mr. Harari lives in a somewhat tougher neighborhood, Israel, and is an academic and, again with a little research, is fond of bending things a bit to make a point.
In hunter-gatherer society, every man is a hunter and warrior. Small bands are democratic, because everyone is needed. Leadership, the chief, although frequently hereditary, can be and sometimes is changed. With domestication of plants and animals, society grows larger, allows specialization into the warrior class, and various kinds of labor. Mr. Harari is right; bones tell the story. In exchange for dependable food supply and a measure of protection, skeletons get smaller, tell of more disease, and joints tell of endless hard work.
If you consider today’s coal miner who has worked decades, avoided slate falls and acquired black lung only to lose his earned retirement because the investor who made a bad judgment getting into coal has to have his money back, the world looks less favorable. And if you are among the one in 10 of the world’s population who live on less than $1.90 a day, or even the lower half of incomes, it would look different. Three individuals “collectively hold more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of the domestic [U.S.] population, a total of 160 million people,” according to Forbes.
We mostly have security, for the moment, and the grueling labor of slaves and hired workers that ruined joints is mostly gone, but food, medicine, housing and many other benefits of prosperity are very selectively distributed in our world today.
Groups, nations and empires go up and then down. What happened to the Sumerians, the Greeks, the Romans, the British Empire?
Have you heard of the arms race? Resource exhaustion? The warming of the earth? Political decline? Artificial intelligence?
We exist at a point in time. We can be assured things will change. Enjoy what you have.
S. Thomas Bond, West Virginia