by Umair Khan
Revolution' today is taken for granted, and in consequence becomes rather dull.
|It has recently become apparent to me that the world has changed in my lifetime. However, what is not clear to me is in what ways has it changed and what exactly is the reason for this change? It can be thought the world is constantly being revolutionized and transformed. There are technological, environmental, and economic changes continuously present in society. Are these changes enough to bring about a modern revolution? And if so, what kind of revolution are we experiencing?
In order to argue for or against the concept of a modern revolution it is important that we understand what a revolution is and look back at the impact of significant revolutions in history. When the word “revolution” is first announced, it is common to think of an uprising or revolt from tyranny and unjustness. However, there are other kinds of revolutions; the kind that bring about other types of change in the way we live. Patrick J. Howie notes that revolutions in science, technology and international politics are headline events that become unforgettable moments in history. Although the United States was recently at war in the Middle East and there are other countries that have had rebellions stemmed from civil disobedience, I do not feel as though we can categorize the thought of a modern revolution to that of a violent or war based revolution. With all of the scientific and technological advances that have been introduced in the past decade alone, there have been significant impacts to societies all over the world. The Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolutions are prime examples of transformations that occurred in the absence of a formal rebellion.
One of the most important developments in the western culture was the Scientific Revolution throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. The Scientific Revolution was a revolution in the way the individual perceives the world and it ultimately changed the thought process of man. It was an intellectual revolution and some would say it was also a revolution in human knowledge. In the video series The Day the Universe Changed, James Burke states, “science is about leaning how things work, so we know what comes next”. That is the approach that the scientific revolutionaries in this era used in an attempt to understand and explain man and the natural world. The Scientific Revolution was the first time that man could use mathematics to predict nature. In 1948, the British historian Herbert Butterfield prepared a series of lectures that became the foundation for his book, The Origins of Modern Science. Butterfield refers to the Scientific Revolution as revolution that outshines everything since the rise of Christianity and reduces the Renaissance and Reformation to the rank of mere episodes. This statement notes the significance of the impact the Scientific Revolution has on humanity.
According to the medieval world view, the word and everything that it encompassed was created and maintained by God. This entire proposal depended not only upon God, but upon society’s complete and unyielding faith in God. In the 16th and 17th centuries, scientists, theologians, philosophers and mathematicians were engaged in a vigorous debate over the natural world.
The knowledge and understanding of nature, math, physics and other sciences led to the creation of technologies that catapulted the Western world in to the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Industrial Revolution marked the onset of industrial society and defined the key mechanisms of its progress. This was a revolution of more than just machines. Factories were established which fashioned a new work ethic and standard of living. The Industrial Revolution serves as an explanation to the origins of modern Western culture. Harold Perkin has remarked, “The Industrial Revolution was no mere sequence of changes in industrial techniques and production, but a social revolution with social causes as well as profound social effects”.
The Industrial Revolution began in England, the “First Industrial Nation”, in the late 18th century. In the early years of the revolution, England would become an economic titan with an objective to supply a majority of the civilized worlds with goods crafted in their industrial centers. The Industrial Revolution added to the wisdom of the Scientific Revolution Not only did man now have the knowledge to understand nature; they were now able to create it.
As the wheels of progress rolled on during the height of the Industrial Revolution, manufacturing capabilities made great strides, and with these capabilities came the development of machines that were able to perform all sorts of manual tasks to exacting. The introduction of this machinery threatened the livelihood of many works and produced a considerable amount of social unrest. This then led to later Luddite outbreaks of machine smashing and rebellion. Eventually society gained acceptance for this new found technology and embraced the new standard of living it established. A standard of living that is still apparent in modern society when we relate to the desire to create and gain success and wealth.
The world in which we live in today has scientifically and technologically made many advances from the days of the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions. However, there I feel that the backbones of what made those revolutions significant are still present in our modern society. James Burke asserts that our society is “unsuitably curious”. Man has the unrelenting urge to need to know things and to never stop asking questions. This urge is part of what has allowed our civilization to flourish industrially, scientifically and technologically. We have come a long way from solely using steam power to manufacture goods, but we still have the basic economic set up; business, workers, productivity and capital gain. This economic structure of our society has catapulted technology to the forefront of modern culture.
The way people communicate has been drastically advanced on a global level. All the new means of communication have increased the momentum of the pace of life, and altered the way we trade and the exchange of ideas. The internet has allowed for people to stay in touch from opposite sides of the world, and it has allowed to knowledge to be literally at your finger tips. The rise of mobile services and the advent of smart phones may have created trillions of dollars in economic output and have allowed us to create a functional fast passed living and working environment. These two innovations have created a world-wide social networking community that has encompassed a modern Communication Revolution.
Communication has always been a vital part of society, even before verbal language was established there were other forms of communication. As man began to evolve, so did the ability in which we communicate and the available channels we have for communication. In today’s society these channels of communication are so much more then letter writing, mail, and the invention of the telegraph and telephone. The mobile phone allows us and immediate satisfaction to satisfy the need to maintain relationships with immediate results. It has also allowed businesses to grow at more efficient rates because decisions and advice can be given without “waiting for the boss to come in”. There was still more that we needed though. We had cell phones to communicate information and computers to process information, but these were two separate channels, so has man naturally has for hundreds of years, we evolved. The internet was born, and with that a communication revolution was taking place and since then communication has not been the same.
The internet gives us the accessibility we desire, to well, everything. There has been much criticism that modern communication, and the internet, have destroyed individual relationships and have taken the “personal” out of interpersonal communication. I feel that all these avenues have allowed us to grow more as an individual while maintaining relationships, which otherwise may have gone astray. Modern communication has also allowed us to not only share experiences and feelings from distances, but knowledge as well.
It is has been said that knowledge makes power, and in some cases power can equal success. But what if knowledge is not readily available? How will we be able to grow as an individual and build successful careers? A perfect answer to this is something very familiar to you and I; online education. Online education has grown immensely over the past decade. The increased accessibility of the internet and the World Wide Web has created vast opportunities for non-traditional education through this medium. The expansion of technology has made educating outside the traditional classroom possible for teachers and has also provided students with easy access to course material and knowledge. Being able to gain knowledge and become educated online give people freedom and flexibility to build their lives. For many working adults and parents there are a plethora of responsibilities and daily activities that can prohibit them from furthering their education in a traditional classroom setting.
With all the advances we have made in modern science and technology, communication prevails as one of the most evident and essential. As the communication evolution continues, I think that we will see more advances in the way we are able to share knowledge and maintain relationships. We will be able to continue to build new experiences in our individual lives without losing touch with our roots and preserving the bonds that make us “human”.