Monday, September 24, 2012

It's still a beautiful world

If you watch the news or read the paper, you can’t avoid the ugliness and negativity that we are fed each and every day. It’s a steady diet of pessimism. Record breaking unemployment, wars, terrorism, and poison in our food, poverty, pedophiles running rampant, the economic crisis and other unthinkable atrocities. When you throw in the political rhetoric, brimming with smear campaigns, many of us are left feeling a bit confused, frustrated and even hopeless.

Some become nostalgic, thinking back on better times. Some become melancholy, yearning for the simpler days. They share stories of how people didn't have to lock their doors and children could roam the neighborhood without fear...

The good old days...

It’s enough to make you think the world is going to hell in a handbag! At the very least, it doesn’t promote a very positive outlook.

However, it takes a Historian to put this in perspective. My dear friend Patrick Duignan, who is a history teacher, gave me a wake up call.  In these times of uncertainty, I believe that this is an important message. It’s a reminder that the world is still a beautiful place. I wanted to share it with my readers and Patrick was kind enough to recap:

“I want to make sure that you know that it is not just my original idea though.  It is what historians refer to as the "Myth of the Golden Age".  I don't have the quotes in front of me, but the one that stuck with the most is one particular author who said, "There's no one here but us chickens."  In other words there have always been heroes and there have always been villains.  Every age has always looked back to the "good old days" when everyone was moral and virtuous and crime and poverty did not exist.  The problem is when you look at what people were saying back in the "good old days", some of them were always complaining about how things were so much better back in their granddad's time.  And their granddad was saying the same.  There are authors from the glory days of the Roman Empire and Ancient Greece who spend most of their time lamenting the decline of their societies.  On average, people today are no worse than they have ever been and they might possibly be a tiny bit better if you look at statistics.  Not to say that everything is always equal, there have been some places and times that were unquestionably worse, but some of those WERE what people today call the "good old days".  For example, during the Victorian era, there was poverty and despair in slums that make modern day "ghettoes" look tame by comparison.

In closing, I will leave you with some words of wisdom from another brilliant scholar.

 “And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.”

From The Desiderata ~ Max Ehrmann: “

Photo available here

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