The entire holiday season makes me particularly aware of all we have to be grateful for.

According to MIT professor Steven Pinker we live in the least violent time in human history. The number of those living in the most abject poverty has been dramatically reduced thanks to advances in agricultural science and the benefits of commerce. Despite other factors such as encroachments on our civil liberties, we may very well be living in the best of times thus far.

And yet as we all become increasingly affluent, even if not at the same pace, it seems that we have more to complain about. Many complain about GMOs even though they have helped revolutionize agricultural yields. Many complain about food commercials even though such food has become increasingly affordable and plentiful for most. Many complain about how “addictive” certain foods are when the food supply has never been as reliably delicious and available. It seems that the more we have the higher our relative affluence drives our expectations, sometimes to unreasonable heights.

Let us continue to expect more of our futures–of our governments, of our civil institutions, of our scientists, and most importantly of ourselves. But let us not forget to give thanks at the same time for all the maverick creators that have pulled humanity up from the uncertain existence of hunting, gathering and subsistence farming. The world we enjoy today is their legacy. Our wanting more should never lead us to take this legacy for granted.

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