Tuesday, August 4, 2015

WHY I BELIEVE THINGS ARE ACTUALLY BETTER THAN THEY USED TO BE...

FAIR WARNING: This is my blog, where I'm stating my opinion. I am very well aware that it differs from the opinion of most of you, so don't jump on me, call me names, quote scriptures, and all that. This is MY opinion, and I'll state my reasons for them. I am NOT in the mood for being barraged with silly, illogical remonstrances and name-calling; I'm not asking for your counter-opinions. I'm stating MY opinion, so don't make me go St. Peter on you!


I don't buy into the idea that things are worse now than they've ever been. Sure, every time we turn on TV or open a newspaper, we see examples of horrible things happening all over the world. Seems like The End Times, right? Wrong. In my opinion, not only are things not getting worse; they're actually getting better.

We need to consider two things: First of all, we now have almost infinitely better systems of communication than we used to have. So, while most of us probably didn't even know where Afghanistan or Mali or Paris, Texas, were in the past, now we watch events unfold in those obscure, faraway places almost instantaneously; we see the iconoclasm in Afghanistan, or the genocide in Mali, or the killing of an innocent young black man in northern Texas as they're happening ---  or immediately afterwards --- and we get upset over those things. It doesn't mean that those things weren't happening before; we just didn't know about it.

Or, we notice how villages and larger cities and maybe even nations are being affected negatively by climate change, and we get all bent out of shape. Never mind the fact that in the past, population centers weren't necessarily that close to where changes were taking place, and did so cyclically, or that the changes we're observing now pale into almost insignificance when compared with many past climactic changes. We see those changes now, and it terrifies us, and calls for them to change their lifestyles drastically.

And that's the second thing that we don't usually consider: Our moral sensitivity has gone up, not down. Things which in the past were just accepted as The Way Things Are, now get us all bent out of shape. Our moral sensitivity, our moral outrage, has gone up.

The first step in solving a problem is knowing that there is a problem. Things which we now tackle as problematic were in the past just accepted. As anyone who knows me knows clearly, I don't think that all change is good change --- but I do believe that change is necessary. We are humans, and as such, we're imperfect, finite. So human activities and societies may be based on defective ideas, and some of those ideas may have guided certain societies for thousands of years. That doesn't make them right; it's just that they've worked (for some parts of those societies, anyway), so they've just been accepted. But, when we've been able to see the defects in those social systems, and realized that those systems needed to change, we've been able to start the process.

Yes, things are bad now. The world seems crazy. We seem to be, as the tired cliche says, going to Hell in a handbasket. We're often overwhelmed by the problems we see all around us, and all around the world. Just remember two things, though: First, each of us can be aware, very aware, of things now of which we were totally oblivious in the past; and now, too,  we can know that, just because certain things have long --- or, always --- been the way they are now doesn't mean that's the way they should be, and if they shouldn't be the way they are now, we can change them.

I know that people are tired of my harping on the fact that I'm old, but it is a fact: I am OLD. And I have the ability to put some of these things --- okay, some of these problems --- into a longer-range perspective, and to reach different conclusions from those reached by many others.

I am no Pollyanna. But I definitely don't think that things are worse today than they've ever been; I happen to think that they're potentially much better.