Some amazing things have happened this month.
We had the Olympics. In spite of its many flaws (corporatism, commercialism, professional athletes taking part, doping/drugs, vainglorious American soccer players), it can still be seen as a way for people to test their physical limits. I’m not one of those people who love intellectual or artistic pursuits, and have a disdain for sports and athleticism. At its essence, sport is play. That we place such a huge emphasis on winning at all costs, well, that’s a societal issue.
We also achieved something massive in the scientific arena. We put a vehicle on Mars. That we as a species are able to do something like that is staggering. The mind boggles at the audacity of it, and the intelligence and sheer will to make it work. And DOING it, knowing full well that it might fail miserably. Yes, there will be people who bring up the fact that the public money used to send this little car to Mars could have been spent on people here on earth who are vulnerable and need help. Another societal issue.
However, something else happened on the same day that Curiosity landed on Mars: a man walked into a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and killed six people. All that physical and scientific achievement of the Olympics and the Mars landing was negated for me. We have come so far in terms of training our bodies and minds, but we are still as intolerant and xenophobic as we’ve ever been. We have achieved a lot, but really haven’t evolved past tribalism. We run faster and fly further, but we still don’t see ourselves as one interdependent humanity. A massive societal failure.