Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Case for Optimism

How are we doing, I mean, as humans?

...Because from where I sit, it doesn't look that good.

  • Brokenness: Broken families, broken hearts, broken lives. Many people in this world will never begin to experience what love is.
  • Corruption: Just take a look at Mexico, where anyone with the cojones to stand up to the drug trade ends up six feet under.
  • Ignorance: That the Newark public school system could inspire Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million gift should be evidence enough.
  • Rhetoric: Glenn Beck. Jesse Jackson. Lady Gaga.
  • Rhetoric listeners: The rhetoric offends enough by itself. But when I learn that my beautiful grandparents watch FoxNews, witness the black community's failure to recognize the overwhelming bullsh*t of its leaders, or wonder why a celebrity's opinion can make headline news, I cringe. And a little hope dies inside.
I'm like Ironhide in Transformers. That's him, pretty studly.
  • Ironhide: "Why are we fighting to save the humans? They're a primitive and violent race."
I get tired I wonder if I should even bother to try and change the world.


But maybe I should take a more historical perspective.
  • Optimus Prime: "They're a young species. They have much to learn. But I've seen goodness in them."
We are a young species, and to look back over the last 50,000 years is to see a lot of war and violence; suffering and apathy. But look again and observe a steady progression from darkness into light.

We have formed society. Cooperation has begun to overwhelm conflict as the means of overcoming difficulty. Education has begun to dispel ignorance and its resulting technologies have improved our quality of life. And although these types of progress have marked human progress from the start, never before have they been so widespread.

Since 1970 the percentage of the world's population with access to clean water has increased from 30% to upwards of 85%. Free elections are no longer a luxury, but an expectation. "For the first time in human history all people are convinced that the benefits of culture ought to be and actually can be extended to everyone" (GS).

Cause for optimism abounds.


But how to ensure further progress?

It falls to the leaders and thinkers of the age to discover and protect those principles and underpinnings of society that, in the midst of change and evolution, steadfastly bind humankind to itself. Failure in this regard will leave us slaves to our creations.

Success, well success would just rock :).

Special thanks to Mike Toohey for his ongoing friendship and his contribution to this article. Cited material: Gaudium et Spes: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. The Vatican, 1965.