Thursday, August 18, 2011

Not So Different

Today I came across this article from the Economist that puts the recent London riots into perspective. It's a valuable reminder of how important it is to understand history. It seems that every generation since ancient times thinks that the generation rising after them is worse than they were, and that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

One certainly sees that in the rhetoric of conservative Christian groups, who still pine for the idyllic middle-class paradise of the 1950s, notwithstanding that the conservatives of the 1950s just as loudly decried the decline of Western civilization in their own time as they yearned for some earlier utopia.

Yet there is no perfect era. Each generation makes its own mistakes, improving in some ways on its predecessors while falling short in others. Western civilization may someday pass away, as all civilizations do - but in the end its collapse will be a far more complex affair than anyone on any side of whatever political divides exist at the time will be likely to acknowledge. That event will no more lie at the feet of the youth of the day than Rome's fall was caused by the evil gays or the dirty Christians.

It's easy to focus only on the negatives (or the positives) of a particular situation. But the problems we do face will never be solved as long as we cling to such a simplistic view of the world.

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