I think we’re living in the best of times, or at least somewhere right up there. For everything wrong with this world, I’m convinced its better than its ever been before. What’s more, I think it’s going in the right direction. It’s not that we’re always doing the right things, but we’re asking more of the right things.
We ask how this impacts the planet, how it impacts other people. 1000 years ago the West invaded the Middle East. They didn’t say it was for the good of the local people. They weren’t afraid to say that their god was just bigger and badder than the other guy’s god. Today the first may be a lie, and the second may still be what we’re thinking, but it’s not ok to say that anymore. That’s progress. Before you can change people, they have to believe that how they were was wrong. Someone has to believe that they were wrong.
It’s a better world when racists have to say “I’m not a racist, but….” It’s a better world when they don’t have the law on their side. It’s a better world when it’s hard to get together a lynch mob.
It’s a better world when the oil companies pretend to care about the planet. It’s a better world when strip mining isn’t just how it’s done. When someone at least protests. They clear cut Easter Island. They lived off the trees. It’s a small island. They must have been able to see that it was the last tree before they cut it down. We may not be a lot better off than they were, but we can’t be much worse.
It’s a better world when a doctrine of preemption is shocking to the world instead of obvious. It’s a better world when imperialism is our shameful past rather than our proud future.
It’s a better world when dictators around the world feel they must at least put on the trappings of democracy. It’s a better world when there is no divine right of kings.
It’s a better world when disagreeing with the local religious leader won’t get you executed. It won’t get you in prison. Mostly, it won’t even matter.
It’s a better world when slavery is a hidden thing, not the foundation of entire cultures, blessed by our gods. It’s a better world when our gods don’t demand slaughter and genocide; when we ignore our gods if they do. It’s a better world when everyone says that their religion loves peace. It’s a better world when conversion by the sword isn’t a divine mandate; when normal people don’t accept it. We may have stripped religion from our public square, but that’s better than one or another crushing all rivals. We may not be a world of Seekers, but we aren’t the Faithful either. It’s a better world.
It’s a better world than I think it has ever been, and I think we are closer to the Divine than we have ever been. She may be more awake in us than she has ever been. The vague, feel-good spirituality of the developed world is a insipid thing, but better minds too open than too closed. For so long everyone has known the Truth far too certainly to ever hear the quiet voice of the Divine. An open mind gathers a lot of trash, but a closed mind gathers nothing at all. It’s a better world.
It’s a terrible, cruel, wasteful, selfish world. It’s a better world than it’s ever been. We’ve started to ask a few of the right questions. We’ve started to pretend we care. It’s easy to be cynical, to think that things are no different. But they are. They’re not good, but they’re better.