Is Humanity Worth Saving?

As a child, I would watch end-of-the-world movies and become concerned about catastrophic events that might destroy the entire human race. Somehow I thought it was important to save humanity. Today, as I watch the unfolding of world events, I’m not so sure.
Sure, it’s easy to find human flaws. Extremist religious groups murder innocent civilians. Government officials accept bribes and, in so doing, often put the needs and safety of the general population in jeopardy. Rogue nations build nuclear and biological weapons, putting their pride above their people. All of these behaviours have been with us for some time.
So what has changed recently? I think my change of heart has come from the steady movement of Western society toward materialism and individual selfishness. Witness, in particular, the changes in the United States. Donald Trump was elected on a platform of hate, distrust and bigotry. That the country which has thrived on immigration, diversity, cosmopolitanism and individual rights should have moved to such backward and hateful philosophy is disappointing. But it’s not just the United States.
Britain has become much more materialistic, though certainly not more so than the US. Yet the financial sector in London has clearly diminished the more egalitarian version of Britain that existed in the last century.
Asia too has become more selfish, especially with respect to its individual citizens. China is a case in point. With the opening up of trade, China has done a remarkable job of pulling hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. And yet inequality has skyrocketed. I spent many years travelling to China just after 2000 and I found the disregard for the poor to be disheartening. Disgusting even. The value of a human life in China seems to hover around $0, unless that person has financial or political heft.
Even in Canada, which has consistently been rated as one of the best countries to live in, I find that the social quality of the individual has degraded over time. It’s hard to define what I mean by social quality but consider the following. Parents prioritize money over children by taking two full-time jobs to buy a bigger house, instead allowing one parent to remain home when the children are young. I am not talking about low income parents; these are households with at least one professional and which could live very well on a single income for the first ten years of their children’s lives.
So, taken all together, I see our society moving in exactly the wrong way. We’re moving backwards, towards the time when the concepts of right and wrong were vague and where no one looked out for his neighbour. If life is only about pride or material wealth or a career then we’re really no different from the animals. It’s all instinct and no thoughtfulness.
It’s a shame. And, until we turn ourselves around and start moving towards a more enlightened society, we simply aren’t worth saving.

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