He seems to be on the right side of history.
– Sarah Silverman
I assume we all think that we – our views and the policies we support – are on the right side of history. Hitler must have thought that, as well as Gandhi and just about anyone else of us.
I think that too. When I see Bernie Sanders and the policies he promotes, I see it as being on the right side of history.
It’s a bias most of us have.
And yet, progressive policies tend to actually be on the right side of history. Over the last 200 years or so, later generations tend to see the progressive policies of earlier generations as good, right, and on the right side of history.
It seems that in a society where most people have their basic needs met, the tendency is for it to move in a progressive direction. (Of course, if most or many do not have their basic needs met, it may go in the opposite direction. Germany in the 30s is one example.)
And with progressive, I mean things like:
Expanding the circle of “us” to include more genders, more minorities of any types, non-human beings, ecosystems, and future generations.
Changing policies, economic systems, production, transportation, education and so on to benefit ordinary people, nonhuman beings, ecosystems, and future generations. For instance, changing our economic system to take ecological realities into account. Changing international policies to benefit ordinary people and ecosystems rather than the narrow interests of multinational corporations.
Increased rights and real influence of ordinary people, minorities, nonhuman beings, ecosystems, and future generations. Giving a voice to the voiceless in our political and legal system.
These are just a few examples.
If we look back at history, we see that there has been this tendency – at least in the western world and more industrialized countries. We also see that this is an ongoing process. We haven’t yet included some minorities, nonhuman species, ecosystems, and future generations in a real way in our circle of “us”, and as significant stakeholders in our political and legal systems.
So in one way, I know that none of us can really claim to be on the “right side of history”. At the same time, I would say there is a good chance that supporting and implementing progressive policies will be seen by future generations as being on the right side of history. Also because these policies not only benefit people now, but also these future generations….!
After writing this, I realized something obvious: Another way to be on the right side of history is truth or reality. When Bernie Sanders – along with me and many others – were against GW Bush’s Iraq war and the fabrications used to justify it, he was on the right side of history since he was on the side of reality. The justifications were fabricated. When I and many others promote sustainability and systems changes (economy, production, food, transportation, energy, education) that take into account ecological realities, we are on the side of reality and history. We can even say that about inclusiveness and policies favoring ordinary people and life rather than corporations since these policies take the reality of people’s lives into account as well as ecological realities. (What actually benefits people and life.)
Update March 28, 2016
I thought I would share this one too. I think it’s good because she is saying what I am thinking. (That’s usually why we like something.)
This is interesting to me. I notice that in the back of my mind, I tend to think of some views and policies as being on the right side of history. Some views and policies will be seen as progressive and ahead of their time by future generations. To me, a lot of these are pretty obvious.
Renewable energy. A mix of energy types, much of it decentralized.
Increased rights for nonhuman beings, ecosystems, and future generations. Giving these a voice and a say in our political and legal systems. (As best as we can, and by appointing people to speak for these who currently have no voice.)
Policies that benefits people, nonhuman, beings, future generations, and life. (Currently, many policies benefit corporations and are damaging to people and life.)
An economical system that takes ecological realities into account. (Our current economical system is based on an assumption of unlimited natural resources.)
Increased support and rights of minorities of all types.
Regenerative design. Buildings that produce more energy than they use, and that increase ecosystem vitality and diversity.
Systems and integral thinking in all areas of life.
Resources and vital industries owned by the people. (And not by corporations with more limited interests.)
And much more.
I have to admit that I tend to see some (many!) conservative and more right wing views as on the wrong side of history, and I am often amazed that people publicly support those kind of policies and views when they are so likely to be seen as misguided by future generations. (Similarly, I agree with Sarah Silverman that Bernie Sanders tends to be on the right side of history.)
And that’s, of course, my bias. I agree 99% with Bernie so I will naturally see that as being “on the right side of history”.
I also know that when people have reasonably good lives, their views tend to be more progressive. We have seen that over the last 200 years or so in the industrialized world. And that’s why more progressive views have happened to be on the “right side of history”. Later generations look back on progressive views and see them as the right ones. (Voting rights for women, ending of slavery and segregation, animal rights, taking care of ecosystems and the Earth etc.)
Finally, it’s obviously a bit arrogant to use the term “right side of history” and to think I know what future generations will see as good and right. That’s why I rarely use that term in conversations.