No These Are Not Particularly Troubled Times

“Our Earth is degenerate in these later days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching.”

-Assyrian Tablet dating to 2,800 BC

ISIS. Ebola. The economy. The rise of leggings as business casual clothing. With all the crazy crap going on, are these not the end times? Is the world not going to hell in a hand basket? Is the awfulness of the modern world not totally unprecedented? Oh, for the good old days!

Well, no. Not really.

Times are hardly perfect, but compared to most points throughout human history we’re actually doing pretty good. Genocides and pogroms are down. Slavery is no longer legally sanctioned. A majority of nations no longer exist in a state of near perpetual warfare with one another. Absolute dictatorships and feudal monarchies are no longer ubiquitous. The incidence of diseases like polio, leprosy, tuberculosis, tetanus, small pox, bubonic plague and many others has been dramatically reduced if not completely eliminated. We have thousands of commonplace technologies so amazing that they would appear to be magic to our ancestors if they could even comprehend them at all. In most of the developed world, your average citizen has access to a variety of food and luxuries not even a king could have procured for himself 500 years ago.

In fact, throughout the 20,000 some odd years of what we could call civilization, times are probably better than they’ve ever been since man first put club to skull and declared himself ruler of the tribe.

Sure, there are plenty of nasty things. Many of the benefits listed above have only been fully realized by the developed world. People all over the planet are starving or trapped in white slavery or lack the economic means to cure their diseases. But compared to what our civilization used to be, we’re doing amazingly well. I mean come on. You know what our life expectancies used to be? You know how many societies throughout history have considered slavery morally acceptable and public torture and execution a form of entertainment?

This isn’t to say that we couldn’t do much better. We could. But I’m so sick of people acting like they live in the worst time in human history, like we’re one step short of an apocalypse and Hell on Earth when in fact civilization is, as a whole, doing way better than it used to. I say screw the good old days. They never existed. Humanity has always been rife with corruption and violence. The thing is, slowly and surely, it’s getting better.

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