I am once again reading through the final pages of Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. It’s a book I’ve been reading almost every year for the past six years now, and each time I finish I feel more informed about the world around us.
While somewhat controversial among historians, I find Diamond’s position to be one of the best theses on human nature and how we got to where we are. In it, Diamond posits that our modern society is a result of distinct and practical events, driven not by prevalence of any race but by geography. In this view, geography and climate dominate and ultimately determine how societies form. Simply put, agrarian societies collided with hunter-gatherers, and as technology improved and as Europeans & Asians explored the outer limits of their maps, germs and warfare resulted in massive genocide. Through the ages, struggles to control food supply and related economies led to displacement, bloodshed and political strife.
Every time I finish it, I discover new thoughts that force me to rethink the modern world around me. Though, a consistent takeaway each time is simply that history repeats itself, and that human nature will always prevail. We are at once in perilous times and wonderfully prosperous times.
Will history continue to repeat itself? Inevitably, it will — and as sad as that reality may seem, we can continue to make incredible progress along the way.