A Short History Of Problems

Posted: September 1, 2012 in humor, Humour
Tags: , , , , ,

Somewhere along the 21st century, the world reached a tipping point. Stupendous progress had been made in almost every area, known and unknown, by humans. From the days of the early Neanderthal, humans progressed from a state of being inundated with problems and no means, to a state where they were inundated with means and no problems.

This caused a big problem.

The happiness of the past was a distant memory. Humankind’s ignorance over much of history had created a situation that had facilitated peaceful coexistence; between Earth and Earthlings, consequential and otherwise. There wasn’t much to do, once the early day errands were completed, and humans felt a pressing need to keep boredom at bay. Inventing problems that did not exist provided a wonderful solution.

Since then, much ingenuity was devoted to conjuring up problems so that everyone was kept busy.

The apple-chomping, treetop-romping biped gradually began to feel the need to indulge in clothes. Winter came along and brought with it the reminder of Man’s inability to cope with extreme cold. Shopping was an unheard of fad at the time and alternatives were needed. The needle and thread were invented as a result, initially as a means to insulate against cold and then as a means to augment social impression. The latter worked better.

A little later, humans learnt to make the bow and arrow, originally as a tool to help in animal hunting. Soon, the tool was found to be extremely useful in hunting humans too; and large-scale fighting (battles, wars) was invented. Humans learnt to create fire and it has generally been downhill ever since. They also discovered that often fire could be created but not extinguished, while water could be extinguished but not created. This was likely to emerge as fertile ground for future fighting.

The War Culture then underwent major refinements as the Industrial Revolution facilitated the building of metal-based arsenal. Much life was lost in the ensuing experimentation phase. It kept the balance, though. Humankind morphed from having numerous mercenaries and few weapons, to having numerous weapons and few mercenaries. Paradoxically, as the value accompanying the style of life diminished, the value attached to lifestyle increased, generally disproportionately.

A lucrative exercise was discovered in the fine art of Strategy, which involved thinking up a plausible number of implausible problems. Humans found, much to their glee, that Strategy was a potent warehouse for inventing problems. What began in the sphere of foreign affairs and war, with due gratitude to Imperialism, gradually found a cosy dwelling in corporate affairs.

Dwellings, incidentally, assumed centre stage. Bricks, mortar, essential commodities were all found to satiate humans’ desire to have a roof over their heads. What began as an outcome of necessity soon morphed into an instrument of indulgence. Unnecessary massive structures were deemed to be necessary for conveying structured massiveness.

Since the gallingly humbling discovery of their uselessness in the larger scheme of things, humankind increasingly succumbed to restlessness, in the Post-Copernican era. They tried seeking refuge in the comforting arms of education, which they thought could help drill some meaningfulness into their dreary lives. Humans’ desire to invent problems accelerated.

Increasing civility stoked the desire to eschew the power of the Feet for the power of the Wheel. The Wheel was invented and humankind breathed easy, for a brief period. This led to the problem of discovering a fuel to power these creations. Crude Oil provided the answer and Man spent centuries drilling holes into the hitherto unperforated surface of the Earth. Then a need was felt for electricity to power newly-built homes. Coal provided the answer. Much of that was under the surface of the Earth. More drilling happened. When coal became too costly, natural gas was discovered as an alternative. Coincidentally, even this was found to be hidden under the surface of the Earth. More drilling happened. Gradually, many commodities that humans desired were found to be hidden underground. A Drilling Culture was born. The incessant drilling led to disturbances in the sea-bed and a bunch of species perished. Permanently.

Then humans took cognisance of the intense competition from the Brotherhood of the Birds and proceeded to beat them at their own game, by inventing the aircraft. Many birds perished as a result of unscheduled mid-air meetings with Man’s latest creation. Some humans, it must be added in the spirit of fairness, attempted building wings, and perished during the testing phase. Permanently.

The periodic mass killing and clustered dwelling led to the emergence of an eclectic menu of diseases that threatened to exterminate humans. Humans had chanced upon their biggest problem. Medicines and vaccines and elixirs were concocted to keep these raging monsters at bay. Some (diseases) were successfully exterminated but others morphed into alternatives, to manifest at a later date. Humans welcomed it. The goose that lay the golden egg was to be revered, never to be killed.

The invention of Paper Currency proved to be a tipping point in irreversibly stoking humans’ desires. Suddenly, everything seemed easy. All that was needed was accumulation of sufficient wads of Paper. It was found that Paper had the power of the Cure-All. If only sufficient amounts were created and floated around, all appeared well. The few that paused to point out that this was akin to an addict taking periodic drug shots, with a high possibility of ending in disaster, they were dismissed.

In a surprising turn of events, humans had gone from having few problems and no Paper Currency, to having many problems and much Paper Currency, to having few problems and incredible amounts of Paper Currency.

Gradually, all problems ended.

Or so it seemed.

This created a big problem.


Suggestions for inventing new problems will be welcomed in the Comments. Thank you.




  1. Eric Alagan says:

    The root cause of all this angst was – humankind sought the right answers for presumably the wrong questions, when they would have done better if they had found the right questions in the first place…

  2. The invention of Paper Currency proved to be a tipping point – certainly true from Wash DC

  3. saradraws says:

    There’s always outer space. A whole universe of unexplored problems. Finger’s crossed!

  4. Nifti says:

    And as it seemed all the problems ended, the race started to make the most progress beyond nature..

  5. Ankur Mithal says:

    Firstly, as always, full of nifty, quotable one-liners, like:
    – fire could be created but not extinguished, while water could be extinguished but not created
    – Strategy was a potent warehouse for inventing problems

    Secondly, under the garb of humour, you have identified the treacherous path from need to desire as the one that threatens mankind. I agree.

    • HaLin says:

      Thank you for the comment, Ankur.

      Sounds like Buddhism, doesn’t it? For entirely non-spiritual reasons, though, paper currency has no value.

  6. A One-Ounce gold coin was a $20.00 piece. Our grandfathers and great grandfathers found it a hassle to carry these around during large transactions due to heavy weight and frequent robbery, so out of the kindness of their hearts, the bankers would allow people to leave their gold and silver on deposit, while the bank would issue a gold or silver certificate, a piece of paper that was as good as gold. It said on the bill, “Pay to bearer upon demand in gold or silver. So after the bankers started to issue these notes they saw after a while that the people were not using the gold as much and coming back to withdraw it and that they could issue and loan more notes than they had gold to back it up. This is the true source of inflation. A short time later they replaced the gold and silver certificates with Federal reserve notes which are worthless. Without the gold and silver, the real valuables, America was essentially bankrupt. The Federal Reserve is a private corporation. When Federal Reserve notes are printed they are loaned to the U.S. Treasury or the people. Notes that cost 2 cents each are printed by the Fed and loaned to the U.S. government at face value plus 8 1/2% interest compounded. The interest is collected each year by the IRS (Repo Man), also a private corporation controlled by the Federal Reserve. With a federal deficit of 4 trillion 8 hundred billion dollars so far, the interest is in the neighborhood of $200 Billion dollars, which is drained from the economy each year in the form of income taxes. The words “Federal Reserve Note” first appeared on our paper currency in 1933.

  7. Sharmishtha says:

    very intelligent piece hemant! human civilization in a capsule.

  8. john zande says:

    Great post, a good read, but we’ve always been angst ridden. The only great difference is we began studying it about 200 years ago.

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