A couple of weeks ago Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony painted the stark contrast between the calm loveliness of England before Brunel drew the great towers out of the ground, turning the greens to greys and the cricket whites to factory blacks. And it was very moving and powerful, and part of me felt incredibly proud to be British.
And lots of people talked about the way that while on the surface the industrial revolution looked like a great dirty evil, it was great and dirty but it was certainly progress.
But I wonder…what is progress (i.e. how can you measure it) unless you know what the destination is?
In everyday life, if I need to go to the shop I can measure my progress; as the distance to the shop decreases, progress gets better. It doesn’t matter how fast my car is going, or how much noise it’s making, if I’m heading in the opposite direction – that’s not progress, it’s a waste of time!
The same’s surely true in technological ‘progress’. Was the industrial revolution actually progress? And progress to what -a descriptionless better world? Obviously Danny Boyle’s version of pre-industrial revolution England isn’t an accurate reflection of all of life at that time, but it’s difficult to put a finger on exactly what’s objectively better about our nation now in comparison.
The ultimate questions, surely, are:
- What should our ultimate destination be?
- Where is current ‘progress’ taking us?
- If the answers to 1. and 2. aren’t the same, how do we change direction?
For the Christian, the ultimate destination is certain, perfect, and eternal. The way there is guaranteed, and the work required to get there is finished; all we need to do is be pointed in the right direction through faith in Jesus.