Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Bad World, Good World

There are times when the world seems to be going to someplace very hot in a hand basket, and it's doing so at break-neck speed. News offers an endless stream of media content aimed at validating this supposition.

The institution of the family is disintegrating and dumping the associated societal ills on us without reprieve. The economy, for all the media insistence on viewing it through rose-colored glasses, is still in the toilet. Real inflation is whacking all of us, despite the government-finance oligopoly's insistence that this isn't so. The incompetence and corruption institutionalized in our institutions are ever apparent, and apparently expanding. Politicians spend millions telling us that they have the answers, when none of them do. People are fatter than ever and will continue to get fatter yet. Dumbed down college educations are getting more expensive and saddling graduates who can't find jobs with forever debt. Europe is crumbling. The Middle East is boiling over. China is gaining military strength. The war with the Mexican drug cartels is creating unspeakable horrors close to home. And on and on.

But I also see degeneracy and decrepitude all around me. Everything's going to pot. I sense this, for example, whenever I see the proliferation of specimens that used to be reserved for circus side shows while shopping at Wal-Mart. Or when crime strikes in my own neighborhood. Or when I see people close to me make life-altering unfortunate choices. Or when I see the havoc wreaked on my backyard by our puppy. Or when I look in the mirror at my increasing wrinkles and receding hairline. Or when I have to find a pair of reading glasses just to read something that used to easily legible.

Yep, this whole world is going downhill.

But then something happens that gives me pause. Like the other day when I saw a young child, maybe 10 or 11 months old reach his chubby little hand out to caress his mother's cheek, and then use both hands to give his mother a hug.

The same day I saw a long married couple give each other a glance that said so much more than words, conveying affection and love on more levels than a mere observer can reckon.

I also watched as a young boy and his father reached to each other unbidden and clasped hands while they walked side by side. I saw the trust in the boy's eyes and the confidence in the dad's smile.

I recently saw a scoutmaster patiently instruct one of his scouts in doing a task. It was something the scoutmaster could easily have done himself far better and far quicker. But instead he took the time to teach the boy.

My sixth grader recently came to me, gave me a hug, and asked forgiveness for having "acted like a jerk" earlier in the day.

A week and a half ago I drove a group of Order of the Arrow scouts home at night from a service project. I marveled as these young men spontaneously sang spiritual and patriotic songs in a reverent and subdued manner for 45 minutes straight.

The other day when we picked my son up from the university, I watched as this rough and tumble guy openly embraced friend after friend that we encountered on campus.

At my daughter's soccer game last Saturday morning, I watched a mother express sincere concern when one of the other team's star players—a girl she didn't know—sustained an injury. It turned out to be minor, but the empathy was there.

On Saturday afternoon I listened as my ninth grader son played Moonlight Sonata at a piano recital with more feeling than you'd think that a boy of his age and experience could muster—enough emotion to captivate the entire audience.

The following morning I watched a number of grown men silently weep as another man touchingly described a joyful experience from his life.

I see things like this and I realize that there are still many things right with the world. As President Thomas S. Monson said:
"This is a wonderful time to be living here on earth. Our opportunities are limitless. While there are some things wrong in the world today, there are many things right, such as teachers who teach, ministers who minister, marriages that make it, parents who sacrifice, and friends who help."
Yes, the world has its problems. While it has always been so, it seems as if some of these problems are monumental enough to be signalling the end of civilization as we know it. But there are also many good and wonderful things in the world today. The bad cannot be ignored, nor should it. But neither can I let it blot out the value and importance of the good.

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