There is no going back. There’s no un-ringing the bell. I’d like to think that the reason why we’re facing so many social issues is because we’re finally ready to deal with them in a real way that is long overdue. I can’t imagine any point in the last few decades that would have been as ready for it as we are now. But it’s easy to see the elements that long for tradition and times that have gone by are pretty pessimistic about the world here and now. I think that given history, they’re short-sighted about what we have in store.
There was a period of history where much of the old way of life was gone. It would have been easy to look around and say: “Our economy is gone. Countless shops and jobs are no more. Family farms have been sold to pay off debts. There’s been an unprecedented drought. There’s a war going on. It’s killed a generation of young men. It’s put a generation of women to work in converted factories. It’s covered up a massacre of millions in other country. We’ve had to use atomic weapons to prove ought might. This has to be evidence that the end of the world will be in my life-time!”
True, there have been quite a few parallels between then and now, we’ve had our share of economic downturns, jobs aren’t always plentiful, houses were underwater, 401Ks were wiped out, California’s drought has been unprecedented, and we’ve spent more than a decade fighting enemies which has allowed a new enemy to gain power partially by committing massacres of regular people on a much smaller scale. We’ve been trying to fight against the use of chemical weapons, but at least for now there hasn’t been the use of weapons of mass destruction (yet). Surely, many say, all of this is evidence that the world will end very soon; any moment now.
Not even a century has passed and with all the parallels we seem to be repeating some of the same lessons; but we have new lessons to learn as well – about treating all people with respect. It’s just that the tendency to look at the short-term doesn’t reveal the long-term results: that we have changed things for the better and we will continue to do so. We are showing improvement – little by little. But we still haven’t gotten very far in other areas – we still have a long way to go.