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Is the World Getting Better or Worse?

Monday, 17 February, 2020 - 6:21 pm

 

Question of the Week:

 

How can we say that Moshiach is ready to come when the world is such a bad place? There has never been so much crime and war and violence and evil as we see today. Do we really believe that we are ready for messianic times?

 

Answer:

 

You must be reading the news too much. That's why you don't know what's going on in the world. 

 

In every key factor, the world is better today than it has ever been, and it's just getting better. We are healthier, safer, freer, smarter and richer than our forebears. And we don't even know it. 

 

Some examples:

 

- In 1950, 75% of the world population was living in extreme poverty. Today it is down to 10%. Food is more accessible and abundant today than ever before. 

 

- International conflict is at an all time low. Historically, the chances of dying in battle or as a result of war were extremely high. Today they hover at around 0.04%.

 

- Two hundred years ago, 40% of babies died before the age of five. Today that figure is a tiny fraction. Even in Africa that rate has halved in the last 30 years.

 

- Until very recently, literacy skills were reserved for the elite few. (Jews were the exception). Today 8 out of 10 people worldwide are literate. 

 

- Homicide and violent crime rates are lower today than ever in history, including in the USA. 

 

- Life expectancy has doubled since the 19th century, and the world population has multiplied sevenfold. 

 

- Only one hundred years ago, almost all of the world lived under autocratic rule. Today the majority of the world's population live in free societies. And 80% of those who don't are in one country - China.   

 

- For most of history, people had to rely on dial-up internet connections. Slow! 

 

The crazy thing is, With all this good going on, people in free countries don't think the world is improving. In Australia only 3% of people believe the world is getting better, and only 6% in the USA. Interestingly 41% of Chinese do believe the world is a better place today than in the past. Perhaps there are some benefits to a government controlled media spouting positive propaganda...

 

This all tells us that we who benefit the most from these amazing times are enjoying it the least. While we are blessed with prosperity, health and opportunities that our ancestors could have only dreamed of, there is something they did have that we seem to be missing. And that is faith. Faith in a kind Creator who has a purpose for His creation. Faith in the human ability to solve problems, discover cures and invent solutions. And faith in the power of good to triumph over evil, that righteousness wins in the end and goodness will prevail. Faith that after the darkness always comes the dawn. 

 

This is not to pretend that there is no evil in the world. There are certainly some formidable foes we need to contend with. But look beyond the news, and see how far we have come. Just open your eyes and you can see that we are living in good times. We need the wisdom to utilise this golden age, when rather than struggling to survive, we finally have the luxury to focus on our spiritual purpose. We are ever so close to that messianic world, not just not as bad as it once was, but good like it has never been before.

 

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Moss

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