Sunday, February 8, 2009

Making a Dent

Stream of consciousness:

Sometimes I find myself losing focus on whatever I am doing, and falling into a deep, intense, miserable contemplation of all the problems and sadnesses that exist in this world. I think about all those people who are less fortunate than myself, and my heart goes out to them. I wish there were something I could do to assist them in the plights that often they have created for themselves. What can I possibly do to help them all? Can I even make a dent?

After discussing this very topic at length last night with Andrew, we came to the conclusion that this is not just a "me" or "him" thing; it seems that our generation has a common desire to do more with our lives than just work to put shelter over the heads and food on the tables for our families. We want to change the world. We want to make it better for those who have less than us, and for our children, who will (hopefully) have more than us.

We began with a simple analysis of the "great men" who came before us, and the techniques they used to make themselves so "great" in our eyes, and to make their world (and ours) better. President Abraham Lincoln was our starting point. He was rather miserable in life, knowing that many needed help and that he had the power to help them. Even through all his workings and helping others, there was still much to be done. The question then became: can we, in our lifetimes, make enough of a difference that we can feel good about ourselves and what we're doing?

My answer to that is: no; we can't. The effects of Lincoln's acts were not fully felt during his lifetime, and (it can be argued) are not fully felt even today. We cannot know the "great" effects that our life's work will produce in our lifetimes. Posthumously, so much happens in the world. Today, racial prejudices still exist; yet they are much improved from Lincoln's day, when slavery was first abolished. If Lincoln could see us today and the effect that his work made on our world today, how would he feel about it? Would he be awed by our progress? Or can we even call it progress? In moving forward, and advancing scientifically, and technologically, we have also created new problems for ourselves. It's a vicious cycle of solving problems only to find that in so doing, we have made new ones for ourselves.

Is this so-called "progress" really "progress"?

It is certainly a question I'll be pondering for a while. If you've got an answer, I'd love to hear it.

No comments: