Monday, 9 November 2009

Waiting for the world to change is a waste of time (Part 2 of 3)


In hindsight, we can tell that the Roman Empire was already doomed at the beginning of the 4th century. The Eastern part of the empire held out for another thousand years and finally fell apart. The efforts of millions of people did not manage to save it, only to prolong its agony.

Discussions about what society will look like in a distant future seldom bring advantages in the present. A wise man should pursue his own success and happiness without waiting for the world to become a perfect place. The fact that we will never get to live in a flawless universe should not constitute a reason for despair.

Move on and do not let the mirage of utopia paralyse your actions. Perfectionism is as lethal as cynicism. Rationality is the only approach that works. Do work at improving society, if that is your desire, but focus on short-term goals, on tangible results that you can enjoy in your lifetime. If you wish to be idealistic, do it in an affordable way.

Nothing is gained by your going bankrupt for a good cause. Keep your actions focused on small gains that will contribute to your happiness.
Some people believe that History moves only in one direction, forward, and that tomorrow will be necessarily better than today.

Such conviction is absolutely false. Expecting the world to get always better is unrealistic. Once in a while, events may fall into such positive pattern, but if you look carefully, you will also find many aspects pointing in the opposite direction.

When Edward Gibbon began to write The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in the year 1769, his goal was to demonstrate that, in History, civilization often moves backwards as time advances. Reading Gibbon's work is an excellent foundation for understanding current problems and avoiding wishful thinking.

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Esme_Vos under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Waiting for the world to change is a waste of time
(Part 2 of 3)


In hindsight, we can tell that the Roman Empire was already doomed at the beginning of the 4th century. The Eastern part of the empire held out for another thousand years and finally fell apart. The efforts of millions of people did not manage to save it, only to prolong its agony.

Discussions about what society will look like in a distant future seldom bring advantages in the present. A wise man should pursue his own success and happiness without waiting for the world to become a perfect place. The fact that we will never get to live in a flawless universe should not constitute a reason for despair.

Move on and do not let the mirage of utopia paralyse your actions. Perfectionism is as lethal as cynicism. Rationality is the only approach that works. Do work at improving society, if that is your desire, but focus on short-term goals, on tangible results that you can enjoy in your lifetime. If you wish to be idealistic, do it in an affordable way.

Nothing is gained by your going bankrupt for a good cause. Keep your actions focused on small gains that will contribute to your happiness.
Some people believe that History moves only in one direction, forward, and that tomorrow will be necessarily better than today.

Such conviction is absolutely false. Expecting the world to get always better is unrealistic. Once in a while, events may fall into such positive pattern, but if you look carefully, you will also find many aspects pointing in the opposite direction.

When Edward Gibbon began to write The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in the year 1769, his goal was to demonstrate that, in History, civilization often moves backwards as time advances. Reading Gibbon's work is an excellent foundation for understanding current problems and avoiding wishful thinking.

To be continued in Part 3

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Esme_Vos under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]