Lots of people talk about saving the world.
For some people, it’s an environmentalist thing- save the planet, save the trees, save the polar bears, something like that. For others, it’s something reserved for superheroes- there’s a reason the Marvel movies are so popular. Other people think it’s something that involves the politicians, which I find to be more than just a bit naive.
Mostly, though, it’s something we all want to have happen, but it’s rarely something we ever hold ourselves responsible for doing. That makes sense- after all, the world is a big thing. More than that, most people probably couldn’t agree on what exactly it is that we need saving from. Some fear a kind of Terminator-AI-scenario, others natural disasters, or overpopulation.
I think we need saving from ourselves.
If you look at all of the trends in the world, by nearly every metric, things are getting better, at least on paper. We’re living longer, everyone is getting richer, and there’s less war and conflict than at any other point in history.
This doesn’t change the fact that we’re miserable.
Suicide, depression, and mental illness are all on the rise. Some would say this is due to more awareness, but I think it goes deeper.
We’ve lost our sense of meaning. In the shining light of the miracles of this modern age, we’ve realized that the shadows that hid our faults and doubts and insecurities are all receded, and we’re no longer able to hide from the harsh realities within.
It used to be easier to deal with- life was so hard that you could avoid ever looking inward- if you had to work in a coal mine, you probably didn’t have the luxury of sitting down and questioning the meaning of your life.
You just had to survive.
Now, we have people stuck in cubicles, pounding away at keyboards, getting fatter, sadder, and sicker, and with no inherent sort of challenge or danger imaginable. We got safety, and security. We have all the food we could ask for, starvation is almost unheard of in the west, and even the poor are fat. What a time to be alive. Instead of running from predators every day, or chasing a deer in the hunt, we only rarely run on silly machines indoors, in front of a TV.
This is something we can’t survive.
The great irony of this age is that the challenge and the strife and the struggle that we left behind in the name of progress and modernity is exactly the sort of thing we need so desperately. Our old ways died with science, but we didn’t replace them correctly. There is no turning back, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from the past.
There is an old saying that applies here-
SI VIS PACEM, PARA BELLUM.
If you want peace, prepare for war.
They say that weak men make hard times- we’re plenty weak now, and the hard times are certainly on their way. This time, however, I don’t think it’s a physical war we have to prepare for. Over twenty years ago, Chuck Palahniuk wrote in Fight Club-
“We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
Our great war is a spiritual war- we have finally gained enough free time to really take a look at what we are, and we’ve found ourselves lacking. It’s hard to imagine that we’re of the same stock as the men of ages past, when heroes walked the earth, building the world we now so sadly take for granted.
I propose a solution-
Save the World- Master your Self.
You will fight a war, you simply have to decide whether it will be the one you choose to face, or the one that finds you if you don’t.
Conquer yourself, or be conquered by your weakness. Look inward, discover who you truly are, and become the kind of person this world needs- a hero.
Or, refuse the call. Stay miserable, stay depressed, and continue to wait for a savior.
Let me know how that works out for you.
The world is the way it is because we have let ourselves fall and slip down into the pits of blame, denial, and disgrace.
Only you can begin the slow climb back from the pit.
What will you choose?