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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Things Fall Apart....Sometimes!
Hugh Bollinger

Things Fall Apart....Sometimes!


David Christian, historian (credit: TED)

Humans can be a morose bunch. We have nearly everything we need, but we whine because it's not perfect. We die. We get sick. We join Facebook. So we glom onto pronouncements that state that, if everything isn't terrible now, it's on its way. "Things fall apart, the center cannot hold," wrote Yeats. "All life is a process of breaking down," wrote Fitzgerald.

But these pronouncements aren't the whole story. They just feed on our tendency for a narrative of self-pity. The large sweep of history is actually -- so far -- the story of things coming together, becoming more complex, more organized, more sustainable, and more beautiful.

That's the story that the historian David Christian tells a TED conference audience. His is also a hopeful one and it has the added bonus of being true. Reilly Capps

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