There are some who believe that the world is exactly as it is meant to be and that we are learning important lessons by having challenging difficulties to contend with, or that there is a preordained plan bigger than anything any one of us could know. Perhaps all of the above is true, perhaps not.
Whatever the situation, life on our planet does not always seem so divinely planned. Obviously, we experience times of great joy, wonder, laughter, and beauty. We are social creatures and many, if not all, of these good times are due to our relationships and especially to shared love.
But there are also many times when we are not so nice, when we treat each other in ways that belie our sociability. We are attacked for being of a different race or color, women and children are raped and abused, we turn away from helping a stranger for fear of those around us, and huge numbers are starving and homeless.
“I am a Jew and you are not, meaning that as children, we were only allowed to relate to people who were like us,” recalls Ed. “I wasn’t allowed to bring a friend home or to eat in his home if he was not Jewish. I was taught to fear anyone who was different.”
Despite such disregard for each other and ingrained prejudice, and even with the injurious capacity of modern warfare methods, if we look back in time we may be surprised to find that we are actually better behaved and nicer to each other now than we ever were in the past, when we were far more barbaric and disrespectful.
“Throughout history, the human experience has been extremely brutal,” says Andrew Cohen in Be The Change. “For instance, if we were living at the beginning of the Renaissance in Europe and someone broke the law, then their genitals may be cut off or they would be disemboweled. At the time Shakespeare was writing his plays, people’s heads were being stuffed on pikes in order to keep the populace in line. In Roman times, a common entertainment was to watch people be eaten alive by lions. So, despite unspeakable and horrible atrocities in our current era, we are actually becoming more civilized.”