While there is so much about the course of our civilization to drive us to despair, I often think of Emerson’s reminder: Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
Though it’s hard to be enthusiastic when we see the forces of a small number of the greedy and dishonest triumphing over huge masses of decent people who aim to take care of one another, here’s a legitimate reason for enthusiasm: It’s the “finest hour” concept of Churchill. I.e., people 1000 years in the future will look back on what we’re doing here and now and say, “This was their finest hour.”
When I look at the world of 2012, I see exactly that. I’m firmly convinced that if we still have a civilization here in 100 years (forget 1000), with all the threats that stare us in the face, it will be because we did what currently looks to be unimaginable: we came together and made some serious commitments to sustainable uses of energy, water, food, and other resources.
But we need to be honest. Anyone who looks at the world around him at this point and thinks we’re on the brink of making this happen is a silly optimist. But anyone who throws in the towel and walks away to live out his days in an apathetic withdrawal from the needs of humankind at this point, the zenith of its need, is suffering under even worse conditions.