Is the World Getting Worse?

“Let both grow together until the harvest.” (Mt 13.30)

A common refrain, used to scare people into giving power and money to politicians and grifters with bad intentions, is that the world keeps getting worse and worse and worse.

They try to convince us that everything is going to hell, and everything is a crisis. Why do they want to convince us of this? Because if they scare us enough we will swallow their BS and give them tons of money and clicks, watch their shows and listen to their podcasts and buy their books. We will treat them as prophets, sent from God.

In some ways, the world is getting worse. And in some ways, the world is getting better.

The problem is that we aren’t terribly good at judging the difference. We’re easy to manipulate. We are not reasonable creatures, we are driven by emotion (particularly dark emotions; anger, fear, resentment) and we invent post hoc rational explanations for decisions we made on pure emotion. We have the attention span of goldfish. We want slogans and simple answers, and don’t have the patience to deal with complex problems.

We’re living embodiments of Matthew 13.24-30. The servants wanted to rip up the weeds, and the master (the Master) basically tells them that they’re not smart enough to know which plants are weeds and which plants are the crops. “Let both grow together until the harvest.” (Mt 13.30)

So don’t be surprised that the world is going to hell; that’s what the world does. And don’t be surprised if God uses for good something that you thought was going to hell. That’s what GOD does.

One the whole, if you balance the good and the bad, I think the world probably is getting worse, slowly, bit by bit. But not in any way that a politician or pundit can fix, no matter how much money or power we give them.

But we let them, left and right, turn us into Chicken Little, cuz we’re scared and bored and don’t have the attention span to research the facts.

With apologies to James Baldwin: “I ain’t your Chicken Little.”

Here’s what I think is going on.

The world is getting better in some ways and worse in other ways. I don’t think that’s the big thing.

The big thing is that the world is changing rapidly, more rapidly than any other period that any of us remember. And rapid changes scare us to death, making us unable to judge whether the changes are good or bad or how big a threat a particular change presents.

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