Life is still good

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have two thoughts battling in my brain at the same time. Thought one: traditional morality is in decline, and society is suffering because of it. The Proclamation has warned that attacks on the family will cause problems in society, and we are seeing this.

But then there is thought two, which is that many things in society are the best ever. Fewer people dying in wars. Desperate poverty is in decline worldwide. Most people live quite well, especially compared to past generations.

Readers may find this video interesting regarding thought two:

This entry was posted in General by Geoff B.. Bookmark the permalink.

About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

17 thoughts on “Life is still good

  1. President Hinckley:

    “We are in a period of stress across the world. There are occasionally hard days for each of us. Do not despair. Do not give up. Look for the sunlight through the clouds.”

  2. So glad you posted this today! I saw it earlier in my social feeds. Life is good on the earth right now. As a side note, today is a Bulgarian saint day of the three sisters, “Faith, Hope and Charity” I think this is fitting.

  3. I periodically stop to recognize that, as bad as things seem to be getting in some vector or other of our civilization, every bad thing has a potential gospel use and lesson. I’ve long believed that Satan’s plan for us isn’t about convincing us to abandon God’s plan–it’s about giving us more information faster than we can handle so we careen off a cliff almost accidentally. There are very few awful things happening in the world today that can’t be used as gospel teaching opportunities. Almost like God plays a long game. Whoda thought?

  4. To what extent are society’s improvements the result of/contributing to society’s deteriorations?

  5. A married couple went for a drive through the country in the fall, after all the leaves turned colors, but before they fell. It was on a popular route due to the many trees. Due to the increased traffic, there was a lot of road-kill.

    The spouse who did not drive thought it was a lovely trip, except for the sometimes erratic driving.

    The spouse who drove grumbled about all the dead animals in the road and on the shoulder and having to sometimes swerve around them.

    Here are some suggested metrics for quality-of-life measurements, from a previous comment of mine here at M* and a post at JrG:

    Is the marriage rate up or down? Is the divorce rate up or down? Is the age of (first) marriage up or down? Has the change in age of marriage impinged on fertility rate (by giving married women fewer years to procreate their desired number of children)? Are women trying to extend their childbearing years, or are they producing their desired number of children “in time”?

    Do more people now regret getting married/having kids too soon, or regret getting married/having kids too late?

    Among those who have had multiple pre-marital sex partners, when/if they do get married what is their attitude toward their various pre-marital relationships? Do they see those as wasted years, or necessary “comparison shopping”, or just normal “par for the course”, or as some sort of triumph?

    Is the birth/fertility rate up or down? Is the fertility rate at least at the replacement level?

    Is the percentage of out-of-wedlock births up or down? Is the percentage of singe-parent/absent-father households up or down? What are the results of more children being raised without a father present? How do those children do in terms of mental health, crime, drug use, marriage rate, fertility rate, divorce rate?

    What are the affects of pre-marital sex (with persons who are not the future spouse, and with the future spouse) on marriage rate, age at marriage, fertility rate, marriage duration, divorce rate, and overall mental health and life satisfaction?

    Is sexual abuse of children up or down? Is non-sexual abuse up or down? How does childhood abuse affect future mental health, crime rate, drug abuse, age at marriage, marriage rate, fertility rate, marrage duration/divorce rate?

    Is the incidence of STDs up or down? Are the incurable STDs up or down? Has this affected marriage rate and/or fertility rate? Are congenital STDs up or down?

    What are the affects of, or correlation to, pornography consumption/exposure in regards to the above stats?

    It’s too soon to document the long-term effects of state-sanctioned same sex marriage (hasn’t been a generation yet), but “alternate lifestyles” and paraphilias/kink have been more or less “open” for almost 50 years. So one might ask how that has turned out.

    How do swingers/open-marriages compare with monogamous couples in the above stats?

    Prior to SSM, how did same-sex couples fare, in terms of household formation/stabilty, mental/physical health, drug abuse, crime/violence etc.?

    (OK, I recycled the above from a comment about the Sexual Revolution/Summer of Love.) But there’s more:

    How about suicide rate? Death rate from drug overdoses?

    (There have recently been about 70,000 opioid deaths/year, not even counting the meth epidemic that’s zombie-fying people. The death casualties of Americans for the WHOLE vietnam war was “only” about 58,318. 36,574 Americans died in the Korean War. )

    Bottom line: a society that has a fertility rate below the replacement rate is dying off. It’s “failing.” A continuously decreasing fertility rate means subsequent age cohorts or generations are somehow worse off, perhaps more “damaged”, than previous ones.

    It’s not enough to merely “have” a sufficient number of children. Continuation of a society means having-children-who-have-children, ie, raising and equiping children to grow up and repeat the process. Raising “sterile” children does not result in a successful society.

  6. From a learning angle, I assert that none of those problems are new. Marriage instability, kinks, drugs, and all the rest have always been with us. What is also happening in the world, however, is advances in transparency, data collection, and comparability. The openness of society, the pride marches and sex advice columns and drug legalizations, those are all readily discussed now in ways that have until now been scandalous and avoided. As “bad” as things seem to be getting, all the badness gives us an unprecedented opportunity to directly compare lifestyle choices in ways nobody prior to our age has been able to compare. Sure, there are many things being mainstreamed today that have been considered forbidden. But now we can actually find out why.

    Will people suffer because of all this experimentation and comparison? Yes. But suffering has always been with us, too. And just as certain lifestyle choices can seem magnified due to the influence of pervasive media, so too can their suffering. And that too is something we can now study.

    It’s easy to grump about how bad everything is. And viewed through some frames, things do look pretty bad. We all have to be mindful of the influence of these bad things in our lives. But we can *see* the bad things now in plainer ways than they’ve ever been seeable. And that’s a good thing.

  7. Latter: “… have always been with us” is not a proper rejoinder, because those destructive things _are growing_ percentage-wise. We now have a FIFTY YEAR pattern (since 1967’s “Summer of Love”) — the results are in. Example: overall OoW births are now at least 40% of all births. Apocalyptic consequences as foretold in the Proclamation on the Family are now visible to all who can observe and do math.

    I avoided answering the statistical questions because exact figures can be argued, but all the stats are _worse_ and most are _accelerating_.

    Fertility rate being below the replacement rate is the final, last warning of the “canaries in the coal mine.”

    – – – A society with sub-replacement fertility rate is sick, and if nothing is done to correct it, IT IS DYING. – – –

    Numerically, we can replace Americans with immigrants, somewhat similar to how America was created with immigrants. But unlike the past, today’s immigrants quickly adopt our now corrupt western ways/dysfunctions and then join in by having fewer children too. Therefore, _constant_ replacement is needed, and continuity of healthy Western family traditions is lost.

    Analytically and statistically, “we’ve always had problem ‘x'” is just a bogus argument when “x” is getting worse and worse. Especially if “x” either directly or indirectly causes an ever worsening sub-replacement fertility rate.

    If the “good” (the good traditional parts) aspects of Western Culture can’t prevail, and the “bad” aspects of Western Culture are dying off due to sub-fertility, then Western Culture (good and bad) will eventually be replaced demographically by other cultures. iow, “nature abhors a vacuum.” (western Europe’s population would be collapsing without mass immigration.)

    So…., for now, it’s cool, and fun, and actually heart-warming to look at all the diversity we have now in North America. But what are the deltas? How are things changing? Western Civ is no longer being tempered or improved, but due to the low fertility rate (of _both_ native-born, and recent immigrant-stock), the “admixture” is turning into a replacement.

    Look at the current _dominant_ cultures of Central/South America, Africa, Mid-East, Far East, … some new combination of that is eventually coming.

    And that could even be fulfillment of Book of Mormon prophecy: if the people of this land become wicked, they will be swept off and replaced by other people.

    so, Yeah, the leaves look pretty, but the driver better keep his eyes on the road and avoid the obstacles.

  8. I’m all for a sunny outlook. I love the comments about openness leading to research opportunities. One of the biggest positives for me of the modern era (right next to birth control and the subsequent opening of opportunities for women) is the evolving understanding of ourselves and our societies. I’m hesitant to limit the comparisons to now vs 1950s though. A more interesting comparison is now vs 1880s, looking at all levels of societies across the planet. This is one of those areas where the impacts on all God’s children are important.

  9. American society has shifted away from family life. For the median American wages have been stagnant or slightly down since the ’70s, and indicators of hopelessness – suicides, overdose etc. are up.
    Worldwide, poverty and disorder are in steep decline, while traditional family centered mores have only been declining slowly.

    Your post is comparing (American) apples to (Worldwide) oranges. So there really ought not be any conflict between these two outlooks.

  10. I believe we are living in the most righteous and most blessed era in earth’s history. When I look at the horrors of the past such as slavery and misogyny and at the drastic reduction of things such as sexual violence, mass poverty, child exploitation, famine, torture, and war in general, I can’t help but feel blessed that I am living in the best of times.

    Humanity is more altruistic, empathetic, reasonable, just, and moral than at any time in human history.

    Are we perfect? Far from it. But I imagine that God is more pleased with humanity’s progress today than he was 100, 500, 5000, 30,000, etc. years ago.

  11. Despite the current “culture of evil in the world,” which Pres. Oaks referenced in his BYU-H speech, our Church leaders are remarkably optimistic about the future. That optimism is centered on the eventual crowning victory of the gospel of Jesus Christ. No doubt, more progresses will be achieved while the world grows in violence and the love of many waxes colder and colder. It is sobering to read in D&C 45: “It shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety. And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another.”

  12. And it’s this optimism that I choose to embrace. Shall we be alert to evil influence in the world? Yes, certainly. Are things getting “worse?” Arguably, though I remain unconvinced as to the extent, as things are simply growing more obvious now than they’ve ever been, and the manner in which statistics are generated often make me suspicious.

    But that obviousness plays directly into God’s hands. We can see those evils more clearly now than ever before, and joining a conversation about the direction of society has never been easier. Adding our voices to those offering solutions to society’s ills is made exponentially easier when those ills and their causes and effects are plain to see. And they are plainer now than they’re ever been.

    There was a wide-ranging conversation just last week about God-as-free-choice-hardliner, allowing us a vast menu of options. That menu has never been clearer than it is now, and even those outside the church recognize the wrongs of western civilization (addiction, free sexuality, etc.). We in the Church have never been better positioned to present gospel solutions to problems that nearly everyone agrees are problems.

  13. One problem we have is truly understanding how cause and effect works in this world. The classic argument is that crime and violence has generally declined for several decades. That is a good thing. But some statisticians point out that women in poverty get more abortions. It is from the lower classes that we tend to see the most criminals. Are we aborting infants, some of whom would have grown up to commit crimes? Do we have a death penalty for the unborn before they have even took their first breath? I can’t call that a good thing. Just because we benefit from it in mortality, does not mean it is good from an eternal perspective.

  14. Looking at the glass half empty may serve the dispositions and agendas of those wanting to feel they are extra special and above everyone else in the eternal perspective, but it is hard for me to conceive of the Heavenly Parents I worship forwarding a plan that is so impotent that nearing the end of the grand probation things are mostly falling apart, making it look as if the entire plan was ill conceived and ineffective. Is that the best God can do? I hardly think so. Where I don’t’ think we should be blind to the many problems (and many of them increasing) in modern societies, I don’t feel we need to run around acting like the sky is falling.

  15. The brooding ghosts of Australian night have gone from the bush and town;
    My spirit revives in the morning breeze,
    though it died when the sun went down;
    The river is high and the stream is strong,
    and the grass is green and tall,
    And I fain would think that this world of ours is a good world after all.

    The light of passion in dreamy eyes, and a page of truth well read,
    The glorious thrill in a heart grown cold of the spirit I thought was dead,
    A song that goes to a comrade’s heart, and a tear of pride let fall —
    And my soul is strong! and the world to me is a grand world after all!

    Let our enemies go by their old dull tracks,
    and theirs be the fault or shame
    (The man is bitter against the world who has only himself to blame);
    Let the darkest side of the past be dark, and only the good recall;
    For I must believe that the world, my dear, is a kind world after all.

    It well may be that I saw too plain, and it may be I was blind;
    But I’ll keep my face to the dawning light,
    though the devil may stand behind!
    Though the devil may stand behind my back, I’ll not see his shadow fall,
    But read the signs in the morning stars of a good world after all.

    Rest, for your eyes are weary, girl — you have driven the worst away —
    The ghost of the man that I might have been is gone from my heart to-day;
    We’ll live for life and the best it brings till our twilight shadows fall;
    My heart grows brave, and the world, my girl, is a good world after all.

    Henry Lawson (1867-1922)

Comments are closed.