Last night Hubby and I watched “Loopers”. I won’t even attempt to explain the premise of the movie, but the one thing that struck both of us was the dismal projection of the future. In  this movie, everything was wrecked and dirty and lawless and broken. Is that really where we’re headed? Is everything really going downhill?

I grew up in  religious culture that encouraged us all to simply try and hold on until we could make a mass exodus from the planet as the world went to hell in a hand basket. It was widely held that evil would triumph more and more in this world and our only hope of avoiding being either assimilated or annihilated was to first hide and then pray for the end to come quickly. Thankfully, this silliness has, in large part, diminished in mainstream Christendom, but there are still plenty of devout folks who maintain a pretty dim view about where things are headed.

2013 was only hours old when Red Deer had it’s first murder of the year. I saw comments on social media that indicated a generally accepted view that crime is on the rise and the quality of one’s personal safety and security is eroding. Is this perspective true?

Let’s give this some objective thought, shall we?

Technology is rapidly improving our access to tools and information that can greatly improve our quality of life.

Increased societal enlightenment demands constant changes to laws and a shifting of cultural norms that, in general, makes us better.

Statistics show – certainly in Canada – that crime is on the decrease.

Look back 20, 50, 100 years or more. You can’t deny that things are better. Things are BETTER.

Each year in communities all over, new parks, schools and roads are built. Non-profit groups refine their service delivery and develop new programs that offer new hope and help to people.  Service groups break fundraising records,there are breakthroughs in medical science, there’s less tolerance for criminal behaviour… you get the idea.

So why, please tell me, whyyyy do so many of us prefer a dark perspective? What is it about our nature that makes many of us entertain a negative perspective? The lamenting, the wringing of the hands, the angry, cynical witticisms over coffee cups or cyber waves… what exactly is the deal here? If things are actually improving in our world, why do some of us seem more committed than ever to seeing the down side?

I submit that it is because we as human beings are, in our DNA, hardwired for challenge. Particularly in our first world society, much of what constituted challenge for thousands of years – basic survival, for example – is looked after. We don’t hunt for food or have to know how to build a fire (which is good, because I’m really bad at that). We have doctors and stores and clean water. The lack of significant challenge in our lives leaves us searching for things that must be “wrong” so that we can artificially create the challenge that we need, in order to conquer, in order for feel that sense of triumph we all naturally crave. So we seek out problems and climb on the protest band wagon, whether the cause is legitimate or not.

So here is the REAL deal: things are, for the most part, getting better, as previously stated.  However, there are still plenty of challenges in the world that offer plenty of opportunity to meet that personal need to conquer. We can challenge ourselves to learn, grow, improve. Additionally, though our lives may be on the upswing, there are people groups around the globe – and even in our own country – for whom daily life (including access to clean water and basic survival) is still a battle, and we can take up their cause.

I’m really just asking that we consider our own perspective and whether or not our complaints are justified. Perhaps instead of whining, criticizing and spewing toxic negativity into our atmosphere, we could consider throwing our energy into furthering the improvements we see – and can happily see more of – around us every day.

Tell me what you think.