I hear people around me often say that the situation in the world is getting worse and worse. They seem to imply that in the past things were better, much better than they are today. They will talk about wars, global warming, pollution, violence in the streets, political leaders, the economy, insecurity, etc. to justify their pessimism. – What do these people think the world was like before? Do they think the Middle Ages were pretty? Do they think of the earth in the dinosaur age as some kind of pristine garden of love and harmony? Do they think the great plagues and famines that ravished the earth for thousands (maybe millions, even billions…) of years were times of joy and celebration? Do they not know how long humans lived before and how much they suffered? Do they think killing each other with swords, lances, and clubs is better than killing each other with drones and bombs? Do they think executions on crosses were better than electric chairs? Do they think the lives of peasants and slaves (certainly the vocation of most people on earth for the greater part of our “known” history) were a bowl of cherries? Have these people ever visited a Civil War hospital or Mexico during the Spanish invasion five hundred years ago? Have they seen a court of law in the eleventh century? Have they studied the two great wars of the twentieth century (what was it?…100,000,000 people killed?)? The problem today is not that the world is getting worse, but that all the news throws so much ugliness in our faces every day. Until the latter part of the twentieth century, most of the horrors of the world were rather hidden. Only the people there on the scene knew what was going on. Today – with TV and Internet – we are bombarded non-stop with human tragedy, stupidity, violence, and general bullshit. All this has been going on forever – probably even worse before – but people just didn’t know about it. All the horrors of the past centuries and millennium are recorded in a few history books that very few people read or really think about. Today, everybody…truly almost everybody on earth…has access to the tragedies, injustices, violence, idiocies, bad weather, economic problems, dumb politicians, scenes of war, etc. that go on. What today’s pessimists forget is that this stuff has always been going on!…in different forms, of course, but going on nonetheless. – I imagine that much of the pessimists’ problem stems from the omnipresence of the Biblical version of the earth’s beginning: The Garden of Eden. But friends, there never was a Garden of Eden and there very probably never will be. It has never been easy living on this earth. Never. Ever. My guess is that it’s easier now for more people than it ever has been before, but it’s still a hellhole for millions of creatures that suffer and die in millions of ways. – Few people today are able to step back and ask themselves, “What is existence, really? What is life on this earth, really? What are human beings, really? What are animals, really? What is biology, really? What is astronomy, really? What is reality, really?”… So, what is it all? Don’t ask the pessimists. Don’t ask the optimists either. And surely don’t ask me. Ask somebody who’s been around for a few billion years. I’ll bet if He answers, it’ll be in the form of an earthquake or a thunderbolt. Whappp! Slappp! Zapp-a-dooo!!!