The world has gone to hell! This sentiment is a dangerous mind trap that’s all too easy to fall into. It seems like every week I hear people (friends, family, coworkers, bloggers, and talk show hosts alike) lament for a time gone by when things were simpler, when folks were righteous and just, when we were led by our morals. On the surface, I understand why they feel that way. The news is filled with horrific stories of tragedies that most folks don’t even have the capacity to imagine. We’re shown images of war from every corner of the Earth and hear pleas for justice for human rights violations most of us in industrialized nations didn’t even know still occurred.
I’m not going to tell you that it’s all rainbows and unicorns. We all know that’s not true. But I challenge you to give up on hopelessness, to pack away desperation. We are living in the age of enlightenment and we are waking up.
A Time Gone By
We idolize the 1950s as this time of purity, when the family unit was intact and all was well and good in the world. Sure, folks sat down and had dinner together, but there was also rampant alcoholism, sexism, corporal punishment, and don’t even try to suggest that infidelity was unusual back then.
Now that I’m in my 30s I have many more close friends a generation older than me; friends from all over the country, from a variety of educational, religious and ethnic backgrounds. It turns out life was not a cake-walk a generation ago. Go back two generations and it was even harder. If you can even convince our grandparent’s generation to open up about their world in the 1930s and 40s (many won’t share anything unpleasant because “you just didn’t do that”) it won’t take but a moment to appreciate the world we live in today.
Societies around the world are embracing a more tolerant culture. More people than before have the freedom to explore who they are and who they want to become. Many of us can choose our career, our faith, who we love, even our gender. Regardless of our political affiliation, many can speak up for what they believe in, what they are passionate about.
Passion is everywhere. Technology is at our fingertips, the greatest of which is arguably the internet. The web is becoming accessible to people the world around and is allowing us to access to our passions. Imagine you had bipolar disorder in the 1950s. You’d likely go undiagnosed (was there a diagnosis in the 50s?) and if you survived it, you might have ended up terribly mishandled by doctors or self-medicated. Today, you can get treatment and connection to others like you. This is true for virtually any illness, mental or physical challenge. Whether your passion is your family, work, faith, hobby, creative outlet, or even your grief, there is a community for you. This connected, globalized world (even with all its problems) is saving people. It’s bringing us together. I argue, it’s making us happier.
Woah. Bold statement there. I know it doesn’t always FEEL like a better world; especially when hot on our minds are Ferguson, Missouri, ISIS, and the University of Virginia rape scandal. The truth is—there is no other time in history in which I would rather live. I know that I’ve had a privileged life. The stars aligned and I was a girl born into a white middleclass family in America. Although there were plenty of challenges, even some desperate times, I have to call myself lucky. I don’t even really know how common my good fortune is. Frankly, it’s hard to wrap your head around 7 billion. I will say that for many, nary I dare say, most, there is improvement with each generation. Life is better, more fulfilling…happier.
So let’s dispense with the doom and gloom and all this talk about how times aren’t as good as they used to be. It used to be shit. Let’s stop kidding ourselves and instead take advantage of the momentum. Turn off the news and google Random Acts of Kindness. Find inspiration in the world around you and share it. Globalization is here; the world is watching. Let’s show them love.
Ok. Let me have it. With a post like this I have to anticipate disagreement. Please feel free to share. Are these dark times or are we in the age of enlightenment? Tim’s weekly astrological forecast talks a little about the Age of Enlightenment and the work necessary to get there. It seems appropriate to share with this post.