Can we really make the world a better place, why do we think can, and what makes us think we should even try to make the world better? Most graduations this month will include some young, bright-eyed rising-star who will boldly stand behind a podium emblazoned with their school’s seal, and with great passion, with an emotion filled plea, they will say what borders upon a cliché, “It’s up to our generation to go out from here today, and make the world a better place tomorrow...”
Certainly, this desire to make the world a better place isn’t only for young. I think many politicians (at least maybe early on in their careers) share these ambitions too. Most people who are in a serving or caring industry certainly seem to want to make the world better for those they are caring for.
But still, is it possible to make this world better? Why do we think we can improve the world?
There’s a problem with many of our improvements, they usually are shortsighted, and, they create some collateral damage along the way. When we tinker in one area, we usually disrupt another. Often times, our mistakes are revealed only by those who follow us in a later generation, and their solutions to resolve our problems, well, they establish yet another set of difficulties for those who will follow them.
It’s kind of like solving problems with the H-Bomb, which was supposed to peacefully end World War 2, but look at what nuclear armament has done to us in the years since. Is the world safer or more peaceful since the advent of nuclear weapons?
It’s not that we are inherently evil or bent on making mistakes, but we seem to perpetually generate more and more chaos as time goes on. Progress, whatever that may look like in your eyes, is a moving target, and we seem to miss the target more than we hit it.
It’s one thing to want to make the world a better place, it’s another to realize or ignore our limitations. Perhaps, our inability to recognize we are imperfect is hindering our path forward. Imperfect people will hardly be able to create perfection, or achieve some sort of Utopia, yet, most public figures promise “results” are within reach.
I want to be optimistic and I want to see pain alleviated, poverty stricken down, hunger eradicated, health improved, and peace between all people to be reached. Have you noticed though, with every effort and with each generation, we are left with more problems and greater strife?
I think there’s a reason we long for a better world. I think instinctively we all, religious, believers, atheists, and disbelievers alike, I think we know without being told we come from Eden. I think it’s hardwired in our inner beings to know we weren’t created for this present world which is filled with hatred, evil, and death. Just like no one has to tell the Monarch butterfly to migrate, no one has to tell us to search for a Promised Land.
So what gets in the way of us reaching perfection? We have personal agendas, we’re envious, we hold grudges, we have pride issues, we have a hard time cooperating with others, we are judgmental, suspicious, and we think we are smarter than we are. But beyond that, we are in a fallen world that is infested with evil, we are in a realm that is under the sway of and held captive by the demonic. As John writes in I JN 5:19, “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”
We can’t afford to give up, yet we are facing impossible odds to overcome. And on top of this, Scriptures seem to allude to the idea that things will go from bad to worse as time goes on. So what should we do? Hunker down and circle the wagons till the Cavalry rescues us? Seclude ourselves from the world and hide in cloistered monasteries?
I think we would be better served acknowledging where the real battle lies, as in what is revealed in Eph 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” And, we’d be better served not trying to face this spiritual battle on our own strength or by our own methods.
Will this world be a better place someday? Maybe not until Christ returns. Can we create a little heaven here on earth in the meantime? Jesus didn’t instruct us to riot, boycott, protest or fight, or debate everyone on Facebook... instead, He indicated we ought to pray something like, “Your will be done, your Kingdom come, on earth as it is...” and He said something about treating others as we’d like to be treated, and, He said to love our neighbors just like we love ourselves. I’d say starting along these lines should give us a fighting chance.