By Nathan Barton
In our land, and in our movement, there is often one critical element that is constantly in short supply.
Optimism about the future. As we are constantly barraged by a flood of bad news and prognostications about the dim prospects for the future of our community, our state, and the world, we forget that the tens of thousands of such predictions made in the past have (for the most part) failed to come true.
And we forget how much things have improved in our society and technology – even our culture – even in the past few decades.
We can all list lots of negative things about our current situation, about how many things have changed for the worst, and we naturally fear for what can happen. And it is in the interests of many people to paint a bad picture of the world. Otherwise, how can they sell you their solution to solve the world’s problems? Or sell all the stuff you need for when the balloon goes up? Or get you to vote for them?
(I”m NOT knocking preparedness – it is important to prepare for the worst that we can. But we should not let it sour us on life.)
But looking back over 2,000+ years, we have reason to be optimistic. Yes, we will always have wars and rumors of wars. We will always have natural AND manmade disasters. Yes, we will always have the controllers, the statists, the autocrats and tyrants with us. We will always have death facing us. But the entire situation for virtually EVERY part of the world, if not every person, is far, far better than what was the case in AUC 764 (AD 1). (AUC – Roman years, dated from the founding of the city of Rome.) And a great improvement over the situation in AD 500, AD 1000, AD 1500, and indeed, even AD 2000.
But in particular, even given the problems we face today and the loss of the Republic, now an empire in all but name, things for Americans are far better today than they were in AD 1776 (Anno Libertatus 1), or 1876 or 1976. Now 243 years since the establishment of the Thirteen States’ Union, the advances in virtually all aspects of life are clear, and both the Fifty States and the entire world are far better off than nearly a quarter of a millennium in the past.
And we should have confidence that we CAN continue to improve, to be better off in the future than we are today. Not just in technology and health and standards of living, but in liberty and freedom. There have been setbacks in the past, as we well know. Both for individuals, for societies (nations), and for the world. But in the past, those retreats from peace, prosperity, and liberty have always been followed by advances.
As they will in our own future. The future is bright, and we need but to grasp it. To work for it and work with others who see that same bright vision. Despite those who want us to return to the evils of the past.
I am not saying that everything has gone right in the past. That we are in a perfect, or even perfectible world. Or that we have not lost some battles for liberty in the past – even the recent past. But we are doing better. Much better than just two decades, four decades, six decades ago. And not just in the Fifty States. Bad as things may be in countries in Central America or Africa, overall conditions ARE better. (Again, there are exceptions to this: Libya, Syria, the Gaza Strip, Venezuela. But even there, compared to these same places in 1918, 1945, or 1973, to name a few years, conditions are not so bad.)
We need to be optimistic, and we have good reason for hope: we’ve seen this over and over again in history. If we decide (as too many have) that the future is one of total despair, we will fail. We won’t even try. I’m told that many people have been so convinced that mankind is doomed by global warming that they are not interested even in saving for their future retirement, because they do not think that they will live long enough to retire! And no children, either, for they don’t want to bring up children in the expectation that they will die young.
Maybe I should say that’s fine: it leaves more for the rest of us. For my children and grandchildren. For those who ARE optimistic about the future and will work to make it better than we have today.
But I think it is a shame. And it is not an attitude that lovers of liberty need or want.