Are we devolving? Sure, culture is simply doing what it always does. Culture acts upon us and sucks us into its agenda. Culture is a beast that keeps growling at our heals. Culture roars and we are inspired to run up the hill to a better vantage point or escape into a tree, just out of reach, where we can keep our fear to ourselves. Culture barks and society rolls back down to a former position. That's why we need to stay focused and pay attention so we know when we'll need to make an effort to transform culture and push society back up toward the light.
But what about progress? This thing we call progress is generally an illusion. In order to make progress, we'd have to know how things work. Unfortunately, most of us are puppets who have no idea how puppets work. What puppet could understand the mechanisms of mind that made it and make it dance? Only God knows those mysterious things. We learn how something works if we need to know. We are compelled to survive after all. We are special puppets who are a tad bit more evolved because we are a tad bit more conscious. We have this thing called "self" and we are not yet sure whether ants have self-awareness or dogs or cows or chickens or tuna fish or pine trees. Those life forms don't talk like us. They don't seem to have the capacity to lie. They don't make complicated tools that allow them to seemingly have dominion over nature. They are simply part and parcel of a greater whole.
We build rocket ships and MRI machines and yet our moods are influenced by microbes that inhabit our intestines. Why do human bodies host so many microbes and if microbes influence our thoughts and moods, how does that work? What's going on with all these microbes? Some people ask such questions; some people like to think slow; some people are more curious than others; some people like to investigate things.
If we are losing something and therefore devolving, what is it we're losing?
Past ideals are constructs, fantasies. Alexander the Great's soldiers while marching into Persia carried their constructs and fantasies. Did those mental things add weight to their kit?
We are programmed to fit in and behave. If we don't we fit in and can't behave, we find somewhere else where we can fit in and behave. If we can't find our community we become derelict and loveless. A nose ring, a tattoo or a Luis Vuitton bag are just parts of a uniform that will hopefully attract love. Any random sneeze might put a potential nosering wearing hipster on a path to Yale Law School where, eventually, a Luis Vuitton bag would have immense importance. Does one really love the bag or its function as a lure meant to attract love? We are simply signaling in an attempt to get what we think we need when what we actually need are loving relationships.
A butterfly flaps its wings and we dance to whatever music we come to need to dance to. It may actually be that random, and at the same time, that deterministic.
Perhaps we'd be better off thinking about degrees of "agency". To a certain degree, some of us have a tad bit more of it. If you need to ask what, why and how questions, you probably have more agency than most. That is, of course, if you do the work to try to answer those questions.
So what can turn a puppet into a human being? First, fight the lies that make us puppets and if we become truly brave, truthful and unselfish we will be born again as real human beings content with a struggle that leads to something better.