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January 5, 2012

You often hear people complaining about the current state of the world. They say that it wasn’t like this when they were growing up. It was a simpler time; It was a gentler time.
It wasn’t.
You are confusing memories with the past and they are entirely separate. There has never been a simpler time. The world has remained steadfast in its complexity. While there have been advances in technology, leaps and bounds even, there has been no change in humanity. We are still the same selfish, depraved, mewling creatures we have always been. There are times when we rise above our nature and radiate selflessness, but that has never been the rule. The halcyon days of your childhood are just that, your childhood. The memories that contain those days are specific only to you and contain none of the turmoil that blazed around the world while you whiled away the hours engaged in fantastical play.
People try to tie it to politics and global affairs. “Lord help us if so-and-so comes to power.” There will be no break in service. So-and-so is very similar to And-so-and who governed before. There may be extraordinary moments of upheaval but the complexities of existence will remain the same.
Has love changed? Is the soul-consuming love that bound Orpheus to Eurydice different from the gnawing feelings I have felt today?
Has decency changed? Is the notion of a “Good Samaritan” an outdated cliché?
Have global affairs changed? Is Tulip Madness different from Credit Default Swaps?
Have our leaders changed? Have they transformed from the power-hungry men that have dominated history into altruistic servants?
Time is a constant. Humanity is capable of goodness but it does not and has never tended toward it. We are flawed creatures. Our nature cannot meet our ideals. The best one can hope for is to overcome the baseness we are born with and turn our attention and energy to the good of those around us. Instead of longing for a long gone time that never existed, we can begin to create it. If you wonder why no one will give their seat on the bus to you, wonder also when was the last time you gave up your own.

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