Wealth and technology, that symbiotic pair, have enabled us the luxury to pursue atomized wants. Life is no longer sheer survival each hour on a frozen landscape during an ice age. History between the opulence and desperate subsistence states gives many examples, or possible ways that civilizations were oriented toward other than personal wants and urgent need. Things greater than humanity are that which humanity did not create and cannot control, yet must experience, even to marvel at for inspiration or adapt to for growth in evolution and wisdom. The changing seasons and weather, celestial objects, the passage of time and death, natural beauty and life, are some things greater than humanity.
It seems that past societies made eternal things gods or God, placing them above humanity and according these powers reverence in local customs as befit diverse, separated cultures. Now, for those not utterly lost to modernity, we are reduced to admiring the sagas, the architecture, the sculptures, the valuable lessons, produced by those who came before, because they, unlike us, were awed and inspired by eternal things bigger than humans. We are stagnant and decaying and it shows. Affordable iPods, decades of free time before the TV and the right to vote for legalized gay sex in public parks is not worth the price of the loss of our collective awe toward great eternal things and the resulting strengthening our bodies, minds and cultures undertook as a result.