There is no doubt that the world can be a brutal place to live in. In the media, we often see the worst of humanity: lying politicians, crime, war, terrorism and selfishness. From the outside, it can appear as though the world is run by narcissistic liars and everyone else is oppressed. The strong triumph over the weak and decent human beings don’t get a look in. For those with their eyes glued to the media, it can be hard not to think the world is a terrible place and that all people are scum.
I am here to offer a more hopeful outlook on things.
Suffering is an inevitable part of life, but it need not define the entirety of our lives. When life treats someone badly, it is understandable that — after a while — this particular person can become jaded about the world. It is not something for which we should fault them. However, a pervasive cynicism in life will not serve anybody well. It will only make one sink deeper into their misery.
Terrible things do happen in life, but not everybody in the world is terrible. Also, sometimes good people do bad things. I am not saying this to vindicate people from bad behaviour, but merely to point out that everyone makes mistakes. For this reason, we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves and each other; we should try to be more understanding.
It is easy to reach the conclusion that the world is irrevocable and to not do anything to fix it. Cynicism is the easy option. It corrodes the soul, with minimal effort. And yet believing the world can be made a better place need not require so much effort. The key is in having the right mindset. Instead of believing that all people are evil and selfish by nature, it might be best to frame it this way: people are flawed and can be broken inside. With the right level of nurture and compassion, most people can flourish and make a good contribution to the world.
There are cases of criminals redeeming themselves. There are cases of philanderers seeing the error of their ways. There are businesspeople who realise they need to start giving something back. There are politicians who acknowledge they need to unite rather than divide. If they can do it, we can too.
Yes, people can be selfish. But this is not sufficient in justifying how we run the world and treat one another. Instead of accepting that people sometimes do bad things, we should fight against this and be better, not acquiescent.
The cynic says: The world sucks, deal with it.
I say: The world sucks, let’s change it for the better.
Who’s with me?
(Note: I hope you enjoyed this post. Please also take a moment to appreciate the illustrations, beautifully drawn by Anya Palamartschuk. Her IG is @anyapalamartschuk)