At lunch yesterday, my co-workers and I were talking about the state of our society and how everything is so much worse and so much scarier than in prior eras. (Our ages vary, and so the prior eras remembered vary, as well.)
I had to put forth that not only do I not think things are worse, but that they are actually better and improving exponentially. Our perception of sickness and evil in our society is greatly skewed by the 24-hour news cycles, the ubiquity of negative stories (often clickbait) across the entirety of the internet, catastrophized, mud-slinging and muckraking rhetoric between political factions, and human beings’ penchant for focusing on what is most threatening and fearsome.
The very fact that many of these things are in the news at all is, in and of itself, a sign of hope. Horrifying things that make the news cycles would often have not been considered newsworthy at all in prior centuries. A hundred years ago, women and children were considered chattel. A hundred years before that, many people were literally chattel. The first child abuse prosecution was done through animal abuse laws, as there were no laws in place protecting children from being beaten or starved by their supposed caregivers.
Cesar Chavez’ efforts helped empower U.S. farm workers.
The Civil Rights Movement empowered people of color.
The Feminist movement, growing out of the Civil Rights Movement, helped many women realize that subordination is not part of the natural order of things.
Until Candy Lightner got MADD, drunk driving was only considered to be somewhat foolish, and drunken wrecks were just considered accidents.
And those are all examples just from the 20th century in the United States.
So many areas of society are so much better in so many ways, I just don’t have time to go on because I have to get ready for work – my work in child welfare, a job that didn’t exist a century ago, and that, as a woman, I couldn’t have held anyway.