2009-09-20

The Better World to Come

Human beings have always been inspired by hope for the future. Each generation has given rise to a new generation, hoping, at least, that they would survive and also experience some joy, and at best, that they would flourish and do better than the previous generation.
 
The ancient Hindus and Buddhists talked of a coming Golden Age, when people would be wiser and kinder, life would be easier, and lifespans would be longer.
 
An ancient Roman poet looked forward to a new ordo saeclorum, or new order of the ages, when justice and the Golden Age would come.
 
The ancient Israelites looked forward to the resurrection of the dead and a time of consolation for all past suffering. Later, Jews built upon this notion, and talked of Tikkun Olam, or repairing the world. They believed that actions they could do in the present could lead to a better world to come.
 
The Christians also spoke of the coming of a new, better world, in which there would be no more suffering or death. "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth . . . There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will have passed away." (Revelation 21:4)
 
A philosopher of the early modern era, Francis Bacon, developed the foundations of science with the goal of improving human life by "effecting all things possible." Later, during the Enlightenment, the philosopher Nicolas de Condorcet foresaw the amazing possibilities for future humanity. He wrote, "Nature has set no limit to the realization of our hopes."
 
When the scientist Charles Darwin developed the theory of evolution, his theory implied that just as human beings did not always exist in their current form, they would someday exist in a different form than they do now. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, "Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?"
 
Closer to our own time, the great visionary, FM-2030, wrote to try to encourage humanity, reminding us how much we have already accomplished and giving us an idea of what we could yet accomplish.
 
All this shows how human beings throughout history have looked forward to a better world.

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