I had a conversation with some friends a while back that stemmed from a Ted Talk. A speaker had presented that the world was getting better and we were living in the best of times now and can look forward to an even brighter future due to technology, science, and inclusivity. He said that mankind was “better” on many levels including morally due to these advancements. My friends and I discussed the merits of his argument and to my surprise I was the only one who disagreed with the man.
Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree with the base facts that he used that show the average life expectancy of a human has increased, and that we have the ability to travel faster and communicate more quickly, and that we try to include multiple variant perspectives in our dialogue; I just am not sure that signifies a brighter future or better moral perspective. I am not a nihilist or pessimist (or frankly any “ist” I can think of right now) and I don’t think that the progress we have made is bad. My concern with the argument was that it places hope in a bright future based on what we have accomplished as humans. That single point in his argument made the whole thing false in my view.
If we honestly look at what mankind has achieved and built over time and take credit for the achievements, don’t we need to also take the blame for the horrendous things we have done to get here? And if we want to avoid the conversation about the cost of achieving the current potential for good that the speaker was pointing out, how can we claim to be morally superior because we turn a blind eye to the past. That is like sweeping dirt under a rug in order to say that the room is clean. Out of sight is not out of mind and placing hope in or based on a false reality is vacant and empty at best.
Hope is something that exists outside of ourselves. It is that thing we look for when reason, science, technology, and human morality fail us. It is what we use as a parachute when the plane we are in somehow disappears without us having intentionally jumped out of it. It is the thing that comes from free fall when you realize you have no power to stop what is coming. It is placing everything we are into something we are not. It comes from a place of humility, not an expectation based upon previous services rendered. It is utter and complete reliance on the only thing that cannot fail, God. Anything else we rely on utterly removes the possibility of hope.
The people of the world are unified right now in an altogether too real way. They are scared to death, if not for themselves then for a loved one. There is a virus that looks like a flu that spreads voraciously and in the case of more than a few is deadly. The information regarding it is murky at best and ill communicated by those who actually know. That statement is not meant as an indictment on anyone. It is just were we are. It is the place the speaker at the Ted Talk called “better”. The problem is that “better” is nowhere near “good” and can’t hold a candle to God.
I realize I am biased because I am a Pastor and I am in the business of peddling hope and grace but I am also a husband who cares deeply for his wife and a friend who cares deeply for his friends. I can see the fear in this world and don’t see it changing anytime soon. What that should cause us to do is change ourselves from thinking we can find an answer through the things we have created and openly accept that our only way to truly change this world is by properly understanding hope.
I wish I had an easy answer for this problem and a simple way to bring us back from the edge but I don’t. It will only come from one place. That is the heart of a person who recognizes they were never actually in control and seeks the one who was never out of it. We have proven throughout history that the only thing we can truly do is repeat the mistakes of the past in different ways. Maybe it is time to break the cycle and reconcile with the Creator and his Son. I truly hope we do this.