A society has an image of itself, its way of life. This image is a wavering, composite picture reflected from millions of minds. If the image is largely compounded of the events of the present; if tradition is weak, the past forgotten, that image can alter by subtle degrees. A “cold war” such as we are fighting demands great tenacity in democratic institutions. Secrecy grows, technicians multiply, two great societies shoulder each other down a road that may look increasingly alike to both. The humane tradition—arts, letters, philosophy, the social sciences—threatens to be ignored as unrealistic in what has become a technological race for survival.
Man was a social animal long before he was man. But when he created huge societies and elaborated the world of culture that surrounds him today, he was acting, in some degree, consciously. Man, unlike the animal, is aware of the nature of his society. His conscious image of it is tremendously important in shaping what it will become. It is this that helps to build the human future, and why the future must be fought for day by day in the lives of innumerable and humble men.
~ Loren Eiseley, An Evolutionist Looks at Modern Man (1960)