The New York Times recently published an article called “Is the World Really Falling Apart, or Does It Just Feel That Way?”.
Its author, Max Fisher, makes many keen observations, including this one: “Pessimism about one’s personal circumstances can easily become pessimism about the world.”
It squares with a lot of what Steven Pinker has to say in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.
Pinker’s book begins, “Believe it or not—and I know that most people do not—violence has declined over long stretches of time, and today we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species’ existence. The decline, to be sure, has not been smooth; it has not brought violence down to zero; and it is not guaranteed to continue. But it is an unmistakable development, visible on scales from millennia to years, from the waging of wars to the spanking of children.”
But we (you and I and all of us) clearly still have work to do.
I’m reminded of Rabbi Tarfon’s words, “It is not your responsibility to finish the work of perfecting the world, but you are not free to desist from it either.”
May we persist with joyous spirits.
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