December 30, 2016

Things Are Getting Better

The March of Progress?

If I hear one more person say that things are getting better I am going to scream. Or cry. Or both.

When I am bringing people down by expressing my current world view they stop me mid-rant to remind me that, "things are getting better". But are they, really?

Oh yes. The gays have it better. Women have it better. Blacks have it better. The poor have it better. Aboriginal people have never had it as good. And peace is breaking out all over the place, while the environment is improving!

Usually it is a well off consumer class privileged individual sharing the optimism. They might even tell me to "lighten up" or "get over it" or "move on" so that I can join in and enjoy the privileged life that we can all have if we work hard enough.

What I want to do in those times is take them, and find someone who is gay and ask them if they agree that "things are getting better". Maybe a ask a gay person from Orlando, Florida.

I want to ask a woman if she thinks that things are getting better. Is receiving 77% of the wage of a male doing the same work evidence of this improved world?

Maybe they can visit a First Nations reserve here in Canada and see if the people there share this Polyana view of things. We could ask about the lack of clean water, or adequate housing, or the persistent racist attitudes of their settler neighbours.

And how about the perpetual war that the planet has been in for the past decade? Do Syrians think that things are getting better? Libyans? Egyptians? Ukrainians? Iraqis?

I used to be an optimist, too. But come on - our planet has never been in as rough of shape as it is now. We have had 10,000 years of civilization to get things right, and what do we get? Trump and his ilk.

Come on - we should have nailed this thing several thousand years ago.

Are things getting better? Perhaps. But as Neil Young said in Vampire Blues, the "good times are comin', but they're sure comin' slow". We are moving at a snails pace when we aren't actually going backwards.

If things are going to accelerate enough to get us back on track, we are going to have to have a simple living revolution the likes of which we have never seen before. Happy, comfortable consumer/slaves are going to have to get out of the bubble they have been in for a few decades, and start talking to the  rest of the planet that is suffering in order to prop up their unsustainable lifestyles.

Only then can we work to make this a simpler, more sane world where everyone can truly say "things are getting better". And getting better now. Right now.

If not now, then when?


  1. Please don't despair! I face another funeral this week, so I know it would be easy to lose hope. But I am thinking of my daughter, the optimist, who spreads joy to people and animals. She says she would be ashamed to live in a big house. I am thinking of friends who never buy anything for themselves but donate time and money to help others. Life is better when we love each other and share hope and kindness. The world is still beautiful.

    1. Annie,

      Of course you are right. Let's make 2017 a more beautiful world for all.

  2. Anonymous12/31/2016

    I too have lost my optimism. In fact I see us digressing instead of progressing in all aspects of things that matter. We are losing the battle against climate change and our American president elect is a denier of it's existence. Fears being fueled by those in power who want to keep the little folks in turmoil has caused hate crimes to increase. I know good people who are now going out to buy guns to protect themselves from some phantom outside force. I find no hope in the future unless a major revolution for peace, love and unconsumerism takes hold quickly. I'll continue to dedicate myself to a better way, it's all I have left.

    1. Miss Marla,

      All you have left just happens to be the most vital. Linda and I were talking today about the importance of a course of lifelong self-improvement, or dedicating ourselves to a better way. It is what life is all about. Make ourselves better, and through that make the world better.

      While things look pretty grim right now, I always consider the possibility that things are unfolding exactly as they should, and all we need to do is be patient and trust that the Universe knows what it is doing. Who am I to say?

      You can never tell when a revolution is about to begin. We could be on the cusp of one right now, and not know it. And once they start, things can move quickly bringing about rapid change.

      Here is to wishing you and everyone a 2017 filled with better ways.

  3. Anonymous12/31/2016

    A lot of people are not in a place to make sense of a lot of this stuff. People aren't bad they don't know any better. It's hard to think outside of the box. Change in consciousness can be hard work which the majority will resist if they can, unless something has a direct effect on them.

    1. Alex,

      Things are definitely not set up for us to achieve enlightenment, or even awareness. The distractions are multitudinous and disturbingly attractive to many.

      We were talking earlier about the trackless woods and getting off the path of civilization and such. At the time I was thinking about how hard it is to bushwhack through the woods vs following a path, track, or road. Bushwhacking through the untracked mind is much the same - hard, hard work, but ultimately very rewarding.

      I certainly don't blame the average person - everything is conspiring against them. Just because they aren't paranoid doesn't mean someone isn't after them. Many are just trying to survive and may not have the luxury of the leisure time required to do some serious thinking and learning. It is not only unvalued, it is also actively discouraged. For fun and profit, of course.

      Happy New Year. May 2017 be a wonderful cooperative adventure for us all.

  4. Anonymous1/02/2017

    I agree with both Annie and Alex - there is a ton of beauty and kindness in the world, and so many people who are not the least bit interested in having their consciousness raised. What a state we find ourselves in! And it has most likely always been this way. The stakes are so high currently, it is a challenge to remain optimistic, but we must. I read a great take on the "Serenity Prayer" that changed it up a little:
    I am done accepting the things I cannot change.
    I now change the things I cannot accept.
    It seems it is time to take the polite, minding-your-own-business gloves off; I am actively engaging people in conversations about their poor choices regarding our environment. Even if they don't change now, hopefully a seed is planted.
    Happy New Year to all my NBA buddies. :)
    Erin in TX

    1. Erin,

      I like your take on the prayer. And I do agree that there is a whole lot of good in the world - so much more than the opposite. It is an infinitely awesome universe. Beauty abounds, so can't let myself get caught up in the little bits of non-beauty that are around. But I will discard what does not make sense to me, and I will work for meaningful change to make this world even more beautiful. It is shaping up to be a very interesting 2017. I'm getting my popcorn ready.

  5. Thanks for speaking out. I'm outraged too. I'm very concerned about how people are being treated too, destruction of the earth. And that humans in general seem bent doing things that run us deeper in hole. (Yes, of course many don't know they are being manipulated to keep doing what they are doing.)

    I think the whole system is going to have to collapse and something new developed before this is going to move toward rational. The process is being revved up by the upcoming changes in U.S. government it seems. Somehow it's a positive side to what's happening. Yet, there is fear of the journey to and consequences of collapse.

    Living as we know it must change or it will be changed for us.

    I'm encouraged to see a revolution brewing. Bernie Sanders, Standing Rock and the revolutions spawning from it, rise of independent media, Black Lives Matter, Anti-Trump groups, and many others all around the globe. Whether I agree with all of them or not; it seems apparent that people are waking up, not most people, but maybe enough.

    More people are ditching desires to own crap and to work in slave wage jobs. Some folks are dramatically reducing their need for money and are living more simply. Rob Greenfield is impressive. You can read his Bio and Financial Vows on his "About" page if you want to see that some people are catching on. He livea on $3,500 a year.

    One can learn about how we are being manipulated by optimism in a great book by Barabara Ehrenreich titled "Bright-Sided." Author is not a pessimist but points out how deceived we are about optimism. She also wrote a book about joy years ago. Here is what the NYT is said about "Bright-Sided"

    "Americans are a "positive" people -- cheerful, optimistic, and upbeat: This is our reputation as well as our self-image. But more than a temperament, being positive is the key to getting success and prosperity. Or so we are told.

    In this utterly original debunking, Barbara Ehrenreich confronts the false promises of positive thinking and shows its reach into every corner of American life, from Evangelical megachurches to the medical establishment, and, worst of all, to the business community, where the refusal to consider negative outcomes--like mortgage defaults--contributed directly to the current economic disaster. With the myth-busting powers for which she is acclaimed, Ehrenreich exposes the downside of positive thinking: personal self-blame and national denial. This is Ehrenreich at her provocative best--poking holes in conventional wisdom and faux science and ending with a call for existential clarity and courage."

    I'll add that positive thinking makes it easier for employers to manage, a.k.a. control, their employees too. High incentive to keep us positive and optimistic.

    I'm coping with our current affairs by being as mindful as I can about how I live. The longer I live, the more certain I become that reducing my needs and simple living are at the core of all solutions to the problems we face. It's also preparing me if indeed the system collapses. Hopwfully my example is seen by others and they begin making changes. Living simply is probably the most I can do, my highest priority and response-ablity.

    1. I like the quote, "The pain you are feeling is capitalism dying". It explains the general feeling in society today. Some say if you haven't changed your lifestyle yet, it may be too late. Big changes coming, and many people will not be prepared for the great downsizing that will have to take place if we are to survive. "Avoid the rush - adopt simplicity now!"


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