Why should I prosper in this doomed world?
To be honest, things don't seem to be going very well these days.
(But have they ever?)
No sooner is humanity on the verge of conquering world hunger for the first time in history than rumours of impending famines start spreading.
No sooner is poverty about to be overcome worldwide (according to the World Bank, the number of people earning no more than two dollars a day fell from 95% in 1820 to about 10% in 2015) than the bottom 99% are beginning to begrudge the top 1% their billions, while the top 1% are so dissatisfied with their puny billions that they now seem to be planning to enslave the bottom 99% in a so-called Great Reset.
And now, as more people than ever are rising to a life of prosperity, we find that this very prosperity is affecting the climate and destroying the planet.
If we then turn our attention focused like a laser beam solely to a relatively minor existential threat such as an ever mutating virus that had gone largely unnoticed until the summer of 2019, the chaos is perfect. The world seems to be run by plain lunatics, dull bureaucrats and tedious technocrats who would probably be harmless if ordinary people did not follow them blindly.
And to make matters worse, many have lost their faith in God, which makes it enormously difficult to believe in the good in people. (And to put an end to endless dispute, let’s agree that God means the Ultimate Good the exact nature of which ultimately no man can squeeze into a fixed concept. Think if you must, but don’t let thinking spoil your experience. Whether you are listening or not, that which was once called God with unabashed confidence is in constant communication with you.)
But spiritual considerations aside, the world of humans looks pretty dysfunctional and dystopian, doesn’t it? In such a world, who in his right mind would want to waste all his strength and creativity toward creating value, generating prosperity and standing out as an optimist?
For I am an Unbeliever: I see the Evil in the World and I do not believe there is no God.
Precisely because the world of human affairs is in a bad state, the only sensible thing to do is to work toward improvement.
Then why not start with the only person in this world I seem to have some degree of power over: myself?
And then why not making sure I’m affluent enough to have the independence, leisure and means to do some good in the world? (How could I ever change anything as long as I’m chained to my job and need to be obedient to my superiors for fear of losing my income?)
As far as beautiful sunsets are concerned, or birdsong, or mighty mountains, or your beloved, Ultimate Good is something that’s given. At least to the discerning observer.
But as soon as the wider world of human affairs is concerned, Ultimate Good becomes something that needs to be focused on and strived for. But I won’t strive for anything that I can’t see. And I can’t see anything that I’m not looking for. And I’m not going to look for anything unless I have faith and made up my mind what it is I’m looking for. Were the hell am I? I need to focus! And no matter what people tell me, what experts, authorities, even God tells me, at the end of the day I can’t help but admit it’s me who has the final say. So I have to make a decision and then put it into action. This has to start out as a solitary endeavour. It’s tricky and difficult to sustain.
But there’s something I’d like to share with you. I have experienced it over and over again, and each time I am surprised by joy: As soon as I ventured into the darkness ahead and set off on my journey, sooner or later I inevitably met a group of like-minded travelling companions.