Take a moment to read Einstein’s contribution to the 1939 World’s Fair time-capsule (thanks Brainpickings):
Our time is rich in inventive minds, the inventions of which could facilitate our lives considerably. We are crossing the seas by power and utilize power also in order to relieve humanity from all tiring muscular work. We have learned to fly and we are able to send messages and news without any difficulty over the entire world through electric waves.
However, the production and distribution of commodities is entirely unorganized so that everybody must live in fear of being eliminated from the economic cycle, in this way suffering for the want of everything. Furthermore, people living in different countries kill each other at irregular time intervals, so that also for this reason anyone who thinks about the future must live in fear and terror. This is due to the fact that the intelligence and character of the masses are incomparably lower than the intelligence and character of the few who produce something valuable for the community.
I trust that posterity will read these statements with a feeling of proud and justified superiority.
Aside from end of the second paragraph sounding a little elitist by today’s standards, this could have been written today. More than ever we hope and believe that inventive minds can save us and ‘electric waves’ are everywhere. But at the same time huge swathes of people feel disenfranchised and at risk economically, and we live in fear of terrorists. Remarkable.
That said, it’s clear to me we have seen progress. There’s less and less poverty and number and frequency of wars is decreasing. However, we are some way off being able to feel superior to Einstein’s contemporaries in 1939.