It is essential to progress that each generation shall rebel against the ideas of the generation before it.
Progress is the germination of ideas. Almost everything that people use today for their convenience originated from ideas conceived by some men in the past. It is the nature of men, however, to accept the social conventions of their time. The fear of ridicule restrains them from defying the existing customs and practices or from expressing their own ideas and beliefs on certain things. Yet, there have always appeared a few individuals in every generation who have expressed thoughts which were not entertained by the generality or the people. It is such men who act up to their convictions that are often responsible for progress in the world.
It has been realized that until some men have the moral strength to oppose the views of a generation. For example, when the idea of a locomotive was conceived by George Stevenson, many ridiculed it as fantastic; but as soon as the idea was put into concrete shape; people realized the benefits that they could derive from the use of this invention, which revolutionized transport and affected the lives of the people tremendously. It helped to increase mobility, and soon much progress occurred in all sphere social life in England. Even those who were working hard to discover the causes and cure of diseases in the past were often described as eccentric; but there was sufficient faith and perseverance among these men to impel them to carry on with their work until success crowned their efforts.
Similarly, many generations in England and France considered it almost sacrilegious to oppose the Monarchy in any form. As a result, there was practically no constitutional progress, and many of the citizens in these countries suffered political injustice. Then, however, a generation began to have different ideas about the Monarchy, and soon strong opposition to the prevailing system of government was expressed, which caused tremendous changes in the political life on the people in these two countries, though not at the same time. In France, the Monarchy was abolished in the end, and in England royal absolutism yielded to constitutional monarchy. People now began to enjoy more political freedom, with the result that there was much progress in all aspects of national life.
Sometimes, however, it becomes disastrous for a generation to rebel against the ideas of the previous generation. In Germany and Japan, for example, there were several generations which viewed wars with abhorrence. Then a generation arose which could not hold the same ideas of peace. This generation began to concentrate on the production of war materials. The aggressive designs of these two countries caused other countries also to prepare for war. Thus, conflicts soon broke out, which developed into world wars, and millions of people of all races perished in the conflagration. Instead of progress there was destruction and sorrow.
It is therefore hard to say with conviction that a rebellion of a generation against the ideas of the previous generation would inevitably lead to progress. Only the purpose of the rebellion could indicate whether there will be any progress.
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