Is this a Kalyug or are we living in the best of times?
Many people say and believe (especially those who are old) that we are living in Kalyug (the worst of times), for the world we currently live in is plagued with problems such as widespread poverty, violence, crimes against women and children, deaths because of hunger, religious fanaticism, terrorism, pollution, extinction of endangered species, and decline in moral values amongst the people in general. Perhaps such people are right. When it comes to character we indeed have reached a new low, as it seems that every other person is willing to cheat and resort to unethical practices without any compunction. Moreover, it seems that one doesn’t hesitate committing a crime if one is sure of escaping the consequences. It is also undeniably true that in the world of today no matter how corrupt, dishonest and unprincipled you are as long as nobody catches you it is fine. And that is what the old people say. The men of today aren’t bothered whether they are indulging in corrupt practices or doing wrong things. All they care about is not getting caught in the act. That’s what matters to them. The public image and not the actions. The mask and not the peace of the soul.
“This wasn’t so in our times,” say the old people. “In our times people valued honesty and honor over anything else. In our times money wasn’t the only obsession. This world is doomed. In today’s world nothing else matters except money. And you are what you earn.”
The old people are disappointed. Almost all of them have deep contempt for this world and the current times. They often suggest that nothing in this world is right. Perhaps we too will develop the same outlook once we become old. But keeping that fact aside is the future really as bleak as the old people suggest? Are we indeed living in the worst of times or is it completely the opposite? There are always two ways of looking at the things and most of the old people have a negative outlook towards life. But what if, we the young, stop listening to the elderly people for a while? What if for a moment we view this world through a completely different and optimistic lens? The world would then appear to be not so bad. Isn’t it?
Keeping that positive outlook towards life and after wearing such optimistic glasses the world of current times appears not so bleak. Indeed there are so many problems, but despite that there are many reasons to make us happy. Some of them are listed below in case you are crestfallen and have forgotten the achievements of humankind.
1. “There is so much violence these days.” False. In fact, we live in the best of times. The crime rates are abysmally low. It just that we all are connected and the media of today is so pervasive, active and strong that we come across news reports of such incidents daily. Today the murder of two or a dozen of people upsets us and we think that the people have never been so violent. But that is wrong. In medieval ages the looters, invaders and the raiders mercilessly killed hundreds and thousands of people, often in a single day. But there was no media back then. No newspapers or TV channels to tell us stories of such gruesome and macabre acts. What was happening in one part of the world (carnage of a lakh of people in a single day) was of no concern to the people living in the other part. Therefore we can safely conclude that the world of today is certainly less violent, opposite to what some people believe.
2. “Never the political leaders, the people who are in the position of power, have been so morally corrupt and bad.” This is false again. Barring a few the kings were generally not benevolent. Most of them were power hungry maniacs who didn’t even hesitate killing their own siblings for the sake of the throne. None of the people could challenge them. And those who did ended up losing their heads. The kings of the past cared nothing about the welfare of people they ruled. Many of them in fact were looters and raiders who plundered the wealth from the innocent. And now in the history books such merciless, violent, and greedy global dacoits are mentioned as “great rulers and conquerors.” Some of the examples are — ‘Genghis Khan was a great Mongolian King.’, ‘Temur was a great conqueror.’
3. “The world today is unsafe given that so many nations have nuclear weapons.” This isn’t exactly true. Yes a single nuclear weapon can kill thousands, if not millions, in a single go, but that doesn’t mean the world was safer in the past. In fact, more people have been killed by swords and bullets than nuclear weapons. The causality in raids and wars were much more in the ancient times. That was one of the reason that the population of the world was so low in the ancient times. Nuclear weapons, in fact, deter wars. Why do you think US attacked Iraq? It was because President Bush was sure that Saddam didn’t possess weapons of mass destruction and not the other way round. Why do you think US isn’t attacking North Korea? It’s because they have nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons prevented the war between USSR and USA (of course both of them were paranoid). No, it doesn’t means that more and more countries should develop such technology and build nuclear weapons. Of course nuclear weapons are a danger. Nevertheless, it is undeniably true that the countries who have them wouldn’t be pestered by anyone. Only a suicidal and an insane man would launch a nuclear attack. And we can safely assume that such suicidal leaders with a nuclear button in their offices are very hard to find.
4. The world of today is much kinder to the women than it was in the past. In many countries women are as free as men. Free to pursue their dreams. Free to live life the way they want. Yes, there are nations and societies where women are still treated as second to men and inferior, but we frown upon such countries, cultures, and societies. Don’t we? All in all, the world is a much better place for women now than it was in the past. Today a majority of women can think of their emancipation without any fear. These are the good times. Good times for half of the human population. So how this can be a Kalyug?
5. Life expectancy has increased by two decades. Thanks to medical science and research activities, we no longer have to fear ailments that caused the deaths of millions in the past. Today we can say with certitude that we can deal with epidemics like plague, the Black Death, cholera, and flu. The infant mortality and maternal death rates are all time low. And they are expected to go low yet more with further advancements in medical science. We have vaccines today to prevent deadly diseases and the best surgical procedures. Thanks to science, people can now focus more on other things in their life than worrying about the fact that they have Tuberculosis. Thanks to science, people are productive for a much longer time and they can contemplate about life or pursue self-actualization and transcendence. If these aren’t the good times then what else?
6. People are much more accepting today especially when it comes to mental ailments. The people gripped with psychological illness no longer have to depend on their destiny alone. There are medicines, therapists, support groups, and websites to help such unfortunate people. Talking about mental ailments is no longer a taboo. No more the parents or loved ones of the mentally ill patients feel ashamed of their situation. Instead they seek professional help and advice with open arms. Today, a bipolar can work in an office. Today, a depressed soul can think of a happy future. Thanks to modern medicines one doesn’t need to undergo preposterous and horrifying rigmaroles such as Lobotomy. Also people won’t lock you up in a room if they find that you have some sort of psychological illness. This wasn’t so in the past. Was it?
7. Thanks to the modern ideas such as concept of equality, human rights and democracy slavery was abolished a century ago. People know that the color of one’s skin doesn’t determine one’s worth. And those who don’t know or believe in this simple fact are frowned upon. This wasn’t so in the past. Prejudices were super common among people and racism was at its peak. It’s good that the media today is hyper sensitive about incidents of racism and we constantly come across news of such sorts. But what does this hyper sensitivity towards racism tells us? What does such news coverage suggests? No it doesn’t mean that people are becoming racist. It means exactly the opposite. That is we are overly sensitive about such issues. We do not tolerate racism. Not at All. Contrary to what some people say, the white men have not become racist with time. It’s just the opposite. How can these be the bad times? This isn’t the Kalyug. In fact, we are much closer to “the utopia” than we have ever been in the whole history of humankind.
8. An average person is much more aware today than the best of minds of the past. Ignorance is no longer a bliss. In fact, remaining ignorant is a choice which only a fool will make. Printing press, internet, and telecommunication systems of different sorts has integrated the whole world together. One doesn’t have to talk to different people to know about things. One can browse internet, watch TV or read books to enlighten one’s mind. There are so many articles and blogs on various subjects and even a layman can read and understand how science and this world works. The world has never been so connected as it is now. Philosophy, history, literature, science, you name it and you can access it all at one click of a mouse. The collective consciousness of this world has indeed risen a lot since last one century. Thanks to technology we are closer to enlightenment. Becoming a yet another Buddha and achieving nirvana is much easier today. One has the knowledge that there are billions of galaxies in this universe and trillions of stars and we are just a speck of dust in the whole Universe. One knows that one is just a tiny little firefly which will shine and light up this world for a moment. Such understanding of life and of our place in the world would one day become quite a common affair. Perhaps people would become humble and kinder with time. Yes, that’s a possibility. So why think that we are doomed and the future is dark?
9. Travelling was never so easy, quick, fast and safe as it is now. Not only travelling and visiting unknown places makes us happy but it also broadens our mind. The present generation isn’t spiritually depraved. In fact, we are becoming spiritually aware once again. All thanks to ease in travelling.
10. An average middle class man today leads a much more luxurious life than kings of the past. Cold water, better food, availability of groceries of all sorts, air conditioned rooms, and home entertainment systems are some of the examples. The world is becoming better with each passing year. The number of people living below poverty line is falling. There are fewer people homeless now than there were a decade ago. Good times are coming. Yes, the situation is going to improve. The world isn’t going to the dogs. One must be positive about life.
Perhaps these aren’t the best of times, but these aren’t the worst of times either. One must have faith and be positive. There is a natural order of things and world goes through cycles like that of sinusoidal waves. Perhaps a very long time ago (of which we have no historical records) the world was highly civilized and witnessed the best of times. But then came the dark ages and we became savages again. And now once again we have got the chance to turn things around. Once again we are climbing upwards on the mountain. No, we are not in the phase of decline, for there is a hell of a lot to achieve. The peak is yet to come. Believe me. The peak is yet to arrive.