Fantasy or Mockery...or something else

'Cheer up, splash those white sparkling teeth while I assure you that the world you know hasn't been in a better state ever since civilization began'.

If a new wave of American authors is to be believed, we as an ever-progressive society stand today at the paramount of political stability, economical prosperity, along with social and ethical quality. And we should start being a little optimistic with the way the world has emerged through a long history of instability and war, into a rather peaceful society. This remark is made in comparison with our recent modern-history all the way up to the ancient past of the hunter-gatherers.

Among the lot of highly optimistic books this season is 'The Secret Peace', in which the author Jesse Richards professes that the world is a actually a nice place and getting better by the day. This revolutionary or shall I say preposterous idea actually slings muck at the faces of already crippled inhabitants of the third world.

Mr. Richards insists that we should not hold ourselves back by a short term disaster and instead have an analysis of the long term trends.
And for this, we should talk about figures rather than getting carried away and firing bows into the air. According to him the Global life expectancy is an all time high and believe if you don't that an amazing 40% of African population now own the mighty mobile phone. "We are progressing ethically, we are progressing morally and just becoming a better species", he exclaims.

What is this? For whatever it is, I simply fail to understand it. Since when does having mobile phone access started to symbolize a better world, since when living longer meant living better, if only the cost of surviving on machines and medicine is affordable by the rest of us. And for the sake of argument, since when does moving towards democracy became a scale to measure moral and ethical progress. It all is as bizarre as if I ask, 'How many liters did you walk today?'.

When basic healthcare is unavailable to most of the people living in rural areas, and high costs of medical facilities result in lack of access even for the urban populace, then high global life expectancy rate seem a bit ironical to talk about. In the wake of the mobile phone revolution in Africa, maybe Mr. Richards didn't consider it prudent enough to mention the drought and the famine that plague the horn of Africa currently. And last time I checked, moral and ethical progress was a matter of individuality and had more to do with social attitudes than political.

Another author and expert in war Steven Pinker says that all the heavenly predictions by the experts in the field of peace-conflict studies have been proved wrong and that the world is not going into a nuclear holocaust. Lesser people are dying in wars and the overall peace quotient is high. The percentage figures of rape, murder and other violent crimes are in decline and is going to continue that way.

Pinker's argument that there is an overall false sense of insecurity among the masses which actually emerges from the tendency of worrying too much about all sorts of things could only be right upto a certain extent. Yes, the media sometimes goes overboard while reporting global terrorism and the threat it poses but what about the genocides, the war crimes and civil wars going on in small and distant parts of the world which somehow get left out just because they don't have a representative media.

The official figures might show that battle deaths have dropped from 10,000 to a thousand per battle but what about the real figures. What about ongoing disputes all around the world like the one in Congo or Gaza and many other places? Are they a part of the wonderful world we are supposedly living in, with our ipads, facebook, instant coffee and cupcakes.....

Perhaps Richards and Pinker don't like to leave their suburban homes to notice the hardships faced by their own countrymen living a few blocks away. Perhaps they choose to ignore the murderous economic and foreign policies followed by their government. Perhaps they forgot that there is a new kind of colonization today which is controlled by a weapon far deadlier than a bullet-- its called Debt.

I don't think we are going to face Armageddon or a nuclear onslaught very soon. But just as we do not live in the worst of times, we are not living in the best of times either. So, I am not going to be very happy and cheery about it.
Call me a cynic if you want, but this panglossian representation of a utopian reality still eludes me.


  1. This is something worth appreciating. Even if you took whole lot of hours for it, it came out really worth it. Good use of words, clear description of your thoughts and I came to know you read such 'intellectual' books too! :)

  2. Thanks a lot for appreciating Ashna. A secret word though..'I haven't read those books'.
    But did my various reviews and articles and tried to understand the books essence through the authors comments here and there, so I bet what I assumed wasn't totally wrong.


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