It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
I think most of us remember the opening phrase of this famous book, but I thought I would show you the entire first paragraph, which is actually only one sentence, for this post. Even though it was about the French Revolution, it pretty much describes our current times doesn’t it? Let’s go through the words above one at a time to see how they relate to our times.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
BEST OF TIMES – If you have any doubt that we are in the best of times and there has never been a better time to be a human being then you need to read the book by Steven Pinker as shown here. “The world is getting better, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. I’m glad we have brilliant thinkers like Steven Pinker to help us see the big picture. Enlightenment Now is not only the best book Pinker’s ever written. It’s my new favorite book of all time.”—Bill Gates
WORST OF TIMES – If you have any doubt that we are in the worst of times then you need to look at the gross inequity taking place in the world. The top 0.1% of the world’s population has as much money as the bottom 90%. In reality, this type of dramatic inequality was also one of the reasons for the French Revolution. If not quickly solved, this could result in dramatic upheaval as happened then.
It was the age of wisdom, it was the epoch of incredulity
AGE OF WISDOM – Mapping the Gnome has insured us that medical advances are just around the corner. In the next ten years we will likely learn more in the medical area than we have in the last hundred years.
EPOCH OF INCREDULITY – Global warming is advancing faster than almost anyone could have imagined. Many of the countries of the world are attacking the problem with grave seriousness, but without the biggest polluting country in the world on board, it just may be too late. The current leader of the US absolutely refuses to accept that we humans could be causing the eventual destruction of our world. Will a “Mad Max” world prove to be a reality because of his incredulity?
It was the season of Light, it was the season of darkness
SEASON OF LIGHT – The internet will go down in history, even surpassing the printing press, as the most revolutionary tool. Putting almost all information in the hands of the masses will change everything.
SEASON OF DARKNESS -Humans just can’t seem to keep some of their basic instincts in check. Fear of others outside your tribe was a healthy response in our caveman days. It kept us alive. You would think that societies have evolved so much that fear would be driven into the background. Unfortunately, some have not evolved as much as others.
It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair
SPRING OF HOPE – Equality and Justice has been a goal for mankind since its creation. We are making significant strides in those areas. The #MeToo movement and the recent prison reform legislation is giving us hope that real equality and justice are obtainable goals.
WINTER OF DESPAIR – Democracies are falling at a regular pace now and being replaced by autocracies. Even the US is not immune from this trend. The current Oval Office occupant has a dangerous affection for the autocrats of the world. If he has his way we will follow Russia and so many others down into an autocrat’s hole.
We had everything before us, we had nothing before us
EVERYTHING BEFORE US – Automation will soon make mind numbing manual labor for humans a thing of the past. That will mean that all of our human intellect can then be used to address the issues that currently seem unsolvable. We have it in us to fix most of the world’s problems if we just put aside our differences and put our minds to them.
NOTHING BEFORE US – Willful Ignorance is just too prominent in the world today. There are too many of us who just don’t want to believe that they don’t know everything already. They are stuck with traditions that belonged in the world of millenniums ago and they willfully refuse to accept that fact.
How we address these challenges of the 21st century will determine whether future generations live in the best of times, or the worst of times.