It’s understood that our ancestors lived in a time of darkness and brutality mixed with enlightenment and progress. History is a process of confronting and accepting the evidence we stumble across as we explore the path of humanity. We aren’t a perfect species, but we can make incremental progress towards a better world. We cannot judge ourselves today based on the actions of our ancestors, but we can learn and apply that knowledge towards a better future. This of course applies to the individual as much as the collective species. In either case, progress is active work.
Our ancestors were the best and worst of us. We are the sum of that history: the survivors, antagonists and witnesses rolled into an underlying identity we either celebrate or work to change. We are the latest revision of our species, and the trick, as Kevin Kelly puts it, is to be good ancestors for futures generations. Just as a scale and the mirror inform us of our progress towards fitness, our work and what we invest our time and energy into determine tangible progress for our collective future.
History suggests steady progress, even as the news suggests a spiral downward. The only thing certain is that we have our verse to be written. What we do with the opportunity is up to us.