History measures human progress in technological development but not in terms of our collective morality. Our contemporary civilization is no more moral than those that came before. Starting from the invention of the wheel, today humans have created space shuttles enabling them to explore outer space. Messages were delivered on foot taking several months; today one has cell phones using which it takes seconds to convey a message from one part of the world to another. There is no doubt humans have become technologically advanced. But the question arises, is contemporary civilization more moral than those that came before? Morals are the principles regarding the difference between right and wrong or good and bad behavior. One can find books, researches and articles telling how technologically advanced humans have become with the passage of time but no one will tell that whether humans have become more moral and civilized too.
Human progress cannot be just measured in terms of technology; morality has a part to play too. Becoming technologically advanced does not mean humans have become better off; one also has to see the level of morality in the society. Morality describes the rules that govern human behavior. Without these rules in place, societies cannot survive for long. The well being of the society is known for their morals, rules, and principles, not by the level of technology it has. And now measuring the human progress in term of morality, there has been no change in morality than before, white superiority still reigns supreme (Racism), women are still struggling to get equal rights (gender inequality) and nations are still fighting with each other (wars).
The world might have changed drastically after the industrial revolution but racial disparity has been somewhat of a constant throughout. Racism is when due to certain abilities, trades or qualities a sector of society considers themselves superior from others. One of the oldest examples of racism will be when Britain took over Australia, the native people of Australia were mistreated and considered below standard. The USA has a long history of racism when Europeans took control of America, Native Americans were mistreated and Europeans considered them uncivilized.
Then racism against African-Americans, many of the Africans was brought to America as slaves in the 17th century. African people were forced to convert to Christianity; beaten, tortured, white people used them to maintain their vast properties and land. They were given no human rights. Even though over the years laws have been passed on both local and international level against racism but the problem still exists. In today’s world whites still consider them superior and anyone with a darker skin tone is considered an inferior race. For example:
In the summer of 2012, a 32-year-old African-American man sat in his car cooling off after playing basketball in a Ferguson public park. A Police officer pulled up and demanded the man’s Social Security number and identification. Without any cause, the officer accused the man of being a pedophile, referring to the presence of children in the park, and ordered the man out of his car for a pat-down, although the officer had no reason to believe the man was armed. The officer also asked to search the man’s car. The man objected, citing his constitutional rights. In response, the officer arrested the man, charging him with eight violations of Ferguson’s municipal code and because of these charges; he lost his job as a contractor with the federal government that he had held for years. (Townes, and Judd legum)
This is just one example, latest the Academy award scandal 2016, it was boycotted by Jada Pinkett Smith because from last two year there was not even a single non-white nominee (Lee, and Rachel McRady). Even though one can see remarkable figures of how one has transformed in terms of technology but in terms of morality and especially when it comes to racism, it is still same, racism existed in the 17th century and it is also there today, one has not changed.
Another reason our morality has not changed with the passage of time is gender inequality that was there in former ages and it is still there. In ancient Greece women had almost no rights, they were considered the property of their husbands/ brothers/fathers, and women were not allowed leave their home because they were not allowed to interact with non-related men, women were fiercely controlled and they were abused by men (“Gender Inequality in Ancient Greece”). Same was the case in Pre Islamic Arab where women had no rights; they were treated as objects and were humiliated constantly. They were also used as a commodity of trade.
Even today most countries in the south western Asia and African region-with the exception of Iran, Tunisia, Israel, and to a limited extent Egypt-have permitted only fathers to pass citizenship on to their children. Women married to non-citizen are denied this fundamental right of passing their citizenship on to their children. Moreover in Saudi Arabia women still are not allowed to drive. Husbands in Egypt and Bahrain can file an official complaint at the airport to forbid their wives from leaving the country; same is the case with Syria where a husband can prevent his wife from leaving the country.
In the global gender gap report 2013, published by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with faculty at Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley, Pakistan was declared second worse country in terms of gender inequality getting a 135th position out of 136 countries assessed (Haider). Looking at conditions and statistics existence of gender inequality is evident and there still is no morality in the society.
Morality being distinguishing between right and wrong, one still has not become moral, one is still fighting with each other, waging wars and losing lives. Even if one reads today’s newspaper one find at least one headline regarding a war going on, for example, Syria- Palestine issue or at least one can read about tensions rising between the nations like the most recent issue of deterioration of Pakistan-Indian relations. In ancient times nations used to fight for power and to conquer more land. Like Punic wars 264-146 BC, the Carthaginians and Romans fought in three different wars over the course of 118 years, it was basically over a chain of islands that would let them control the western Mediterranean.
Then there were wars over religion, like wars fought in the time of 4 Islamic Caliphs, the purpose being to spread Islam. Or the French wars of religion fought between Protestants and Catholics from 1562 to 1598. Today in addition to previous motives, countries have started to wage wars over oil or to become more economically strong. Kuwait war in 1990 is a perfect example of wars for economic benefits. Kuwait was accused of stealing Iraqi Petroleum, Kuwaiti production of a large amount of petroleum kept revenues down for Iraq and Iraq was unable to pay more than US$14 billion that had been borrowed to finance the Iran–Iraq war so Iraq decided to wage war against Kuwait. Whatever the motive for war is or have become over the years, the point is even though one has become technologically strong, but is still fighting with each other, one has not understood the fact that war just caused bloodshed and economic loss and it is not moral to fight.
One may argue that from a man not even having the etiquette to wear clothes to what a man has become today, from having no legislations at all to today legislations have been passed concerning every moral problem so therefore human morality has changed and has become moral over time. Over the years legislations have been passed for racism like Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 in Australia, Belgian Anti-Racism Law 1981 in Belgium and Canadian Human Rights Act 1977.
Same goes for gender inequality, legislations like Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 in Australia have been passed to ensure gender equality. But the question arises have these problems eliminated from the society after these legislations have been passed? Again referring to the not so old example of the 32 -year-old African-American man, this is an incident that took place in 2012, where was the racism law then? Academy awards are one the most famous award show being watched all over the world, not having a single non-white nominee, where is the transformation in our morality now? Donald Trump, US presidential candidate, openly talks against Muslims and non-white people, is not this immoral? Our morality has changed just on papers, books of legislatures or in our Facebook statuses, apparently it seems like that one has changed but in reality, one is still as moral as before.
History just measures human progress in terms of technological advancement but not in terms of morality. Now it will be safe to conclude there has been no change in morality than before, white people used to and still think themselves as superior nations, men and women are still not treated equally, from the workplace to home one can still see gender inequality and nations have not stopped fighting with each other. Despite being so advanced; human thinking, values, and morals are still the same; society is still full of immoral and unacceptable practices. Contemporary civilization is no more moral than those that came before.
Haider, Sajjad. “Pakistan second-worst country in gender equality: WEF”. Dawn. 25th October 2013. Print. 29th October 2016
Lee, Esther, and Rachel McRady. “Oscars 2016 Boycott: Every Celebrity Who’s Weighed in on #OscarsSoWhite”. US Magazine.24 February 2016.Web.13 October 2016.
“The Gender Inequality in Ancient Greece”.Weebly.14 November 2014.Web.13 October 2016
Townes, Carimah, and Judd Legum. “9 Egregious Examples Of Racism In Ferguson Uncovered By The Department Of Justice”.Think Progress.15 March 2015.Web.13 October 2016.
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