The Price of Progress

By Jackson Henry —-

Since the dawn of history, when the Neanderthals still lived in caves, the forces of progress have been continuously reshaping civilizations. Its power is unstoppable and those who ignore are bound to be left behind or fall in the ashbin of history.

JT best articulated it when said, “progress is like a bullet fired from a gun. It only flies forward and cannot turn back”. Indeed, progress is a natural evolution that moves mankind forward, not backward.

InPalau, as in many Pacific islands, progress creates friction between those who want it and those who resist it. Progress, for some, means giving up or loosing something. Therefore, they resist changes and prefer the comfort of the status quo. But times wait for no one and inertia is the enemy of progress.

I believePalau’s wheel of progress started turning in 1783 when Capt. Wilson got shipped wrecked off the coast ofUlong. Palauans became aware of advanced civilizations out there so it became Prince Lebuu’s mission to capture some of the knowledge fromEnglandso Palauans can use them to improve their lives here at home.

But what is progress? I think of it as the advancement toward a higher stage or simply increasing knowledge and improving living standards. Higher education, modern medical care and high technology are a few of the tangible fruits of progress that have made their way to Palau.

John Bodley wrote about the price of progress which many developing nations pay heavily for. The main one include lifestyle diseases like Diabetes, Obesity, and various cardiovascular issues. The other is environmental destruction in poverty stricken countries struggling with unemployment and lack of economic opportunities.

So progress becomes a two edge sword for those who fail to manage it right. While it holds promises for the good life to many Palauans, it can also be destructive to those who fail to manage it. We have seen the destructive forces of NCD inPalau. Thus, education is the proper tool in managingPalau’s progress as we navigate our way to the future.

I believe that the ultimate price we pay for progress is making sacrifices and taking calculated risks.Palauneeds to give up something in order to gain something better. As the ancient Puluwatese navigators proved it centuries ago, “you cannot discover new oceans unless you are prepared to loose site of your island first”.

Make no mistake, money can never grow on trees and progress is not free. Making a few sacrifices and taking some calculated risks are prerequisites to nation building and human advancement. As James Bryn wrote, “a turtle can only move forward by sticking it neck out”.Americais a fine example of a liberal nation founded on risk taking and lots of sacrifices. It stands today as a beacon of hope for many around the world. As the saying goes, “no pain, no gain” and nations cannot blossom nor can the human spirit be unleashed until we are prepared to pay the price of progress.

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