Greatness lies forward, not back
If you were born male, white and able-bodied in most of the developed world, you won life’s biggest lottery.
In North America and Europe especially, it has meant an existence of relative ease. Sure, there have been hardships and sacrifices and tragedies, but for the most part, rewards have come predictably. The world was your oyster, and ought to have been; it was designed by and for you.
Even just being male makes your life better in most of the world. Women have almost always suffered the brunt of history’s cruelties in ways men cannot imagine, even if they tried.
But life is changing. Humanity is slowly (very slowly) recognizing the appalling injustices of the past and present. Demographics are shifting. Populations are moving. Social mores are adjusting.
And white males see their historic control eroding as the playing field is levelled.
That’s why we have politicians in the United States promising to bring back the good old days and “Make America Great Again.”
But of course it was great only for white males. If you looked different, belonged to a different religion, and came from a different place, America was not as great.
A half-century ago, almost every group of Americans (and Canadians) except white males faced greater injustices, bigger obstacles to success, and a relatively challenging future.
Even for white males, however, times have improved. The crime rate is lower and our standard of living is higher, despite what politicians may insist. Socalled “good jobs” may be more difficult to find, and careers are less predictable, but disposable income continues to rise and stuff costs less.
There are more hospitals and better treatments and less suffering. There is better education and more opportunities for almost everyone, despite continued injustices.
Raising immigration walls and trade barriers will not make life easier; they will make it more difficult.
Those who demand (and promise) that we “Make America Great Again” somehow believe in the mathematical impossibility that we can have higher wages in our factories and yet even lower prices at Walmart. They somehow believe we can learn about the world from a cruise ship or a reality TV show. They think we can compete globally based on local assumptions.
Despite current challenges, economic uncertainty, international and domestic threats, environmental degradation, political madness and general uneasiness, the world continues to improve for most of us whether we care to admit it or not.
There is never any going back, now matter how loud we insist upon it. Greatness is ahead of us; never behind us.