‘The future will be devoted not to great exhilarating struggles over ideas but rather to resolving mundane economic and technical problems…it will all be rather boring’ Clash of Civilisations p. 31
How passionate are we in the western world? How many things are there for us to protest about, to get really fired up about? When I studied modern history and the world wars of the 20th century I was taught that the people of Britain united against her common enemy, that people became comrades at home, supporting her troops abroad. When the slave trade was at its height I believe people were passionately angry with the people and the politicians that condoned it.
Have we really got the same kind of struggles to get passionate about in today’s society? Well I think problems such as starvation and Aids in Africa are on a par, but what I want to focus on here is why the INTERNAL SOCIAL STRUGGLES of modern developed societies do not seem to have the pressing impact, or at least why they should not.
Well, regarding bad politicians and bad social policy, it seems to me that the world we live in today just isn’t as black and white as they world of yesterday. We’ve got it pretty good in our country. So the NHS isn’t perfect, so taxes are high. But at least we have an NHS and at least our taxes do more than line the pockets of our feudal lords whose bellies grew from the fruits of their starving tenants labour. People just don’t have a right to be so cynical about the state of our standard of living. Our society is getting better in so many ways. Of course we should protest when policy is failing and when changes need to be made, but let us not loose sight of the good whilst doing so. We have an NHS that is far better than any this country has had before, that is improving at some rate, and that is infinitely better than vast amounts of the rest of the world. Stop complaining so passionately about everything. Stop saying the world is getting worse and worse and start saying lets make the world better and better and better.
The world is not going down hill but slowly struggling up hill. I once had a Jehovah’s Witness couple come to my door and decided against my better judgement (maybe I had been called out of bed at one in the afternoon) to hear what they had to say. They read me a passage from the book of revelations to which the general gist was that the world would end when man turns against man, when nations war against their neighbours, when man’s selfishness and greed is ever evident around us. They then said to me ‘don’t you think this description sounds a lot like the world we live in today’ and implied I should prepare for the second coming of the Lord and try to make my peace with God before he came. Now, I admit that my Biblical and historical knowledge is by no means exhaustive or faultless but from what I remember of the times of Abraham, Noah, Jesus, the ancient Greeks etc. the description given to me by that very polite couple is as true of today’s world as is was of those world of millennia past. So, should I really think that the world is coming to an end within my lifetime? Is the world really getting worse and worse and worse? The hearts of many men have been selfish since the dawn of time and they are no more selfish now than they were then. The world described in revelation is no worse than the world described in the four Gospels of the New Testament. The world is not going down hill but slowly struggling up hill, trying to get better.
The above was not a specific attack upon Christian belief but simply an apt example of a commonly held opinion that the world is now worse than it has ever been. The present is always more vivid than the past for we are experiencing it at first hand. That makes it more vivid, not worse.
At some point I think it possible that because the world IS getting better in many ways that the opening quote will one day be true not only for internal social concerns of the western world but be true of our relations with the entire world. In our society the struggle to make things better is making things better. Let us hope that the struggle to make the whole world better keeps making the world better until such time as there is no starvation or aids etc. in the world.