Are There No New Worlds?
Thinking about the current pandemic and how to get through it is a reminder this is not the first likely, not the last plague we face. There was the 1918 influenza that killed millions. Of course, there was also the Bubonic plague or "black death" of the middle ages, which killed millions in Europe and Britain.
Around the same period, Europe experienced the Hundred Years War and The Great Famine of the mid 1300s, which is estimated to have killed between 30 to 60 percent of the total world population.
I heard a video lecture on leadership by the late Rabbi Edwin Friedman, who referenced this period. He noted that by the close of the 1400s Europe and Britain were in a deep depression following the above events. In the early 1500s, new life burst forth in the form of the Renaissance.
He said that an event between those periods must have had an enormous impact to account for such a radical shift in thinking.--Columbus' voyage to the Americas in 1492 in search of a sea route to India.
I realize the mention of Columbus's discovery is cause for much anger, considering the effect of Europeans' arrival to the Americas. But as devastating as it was for the indigenous peoples of America, Friedman says that discovering a new world was what liberated Europe from its long winter of depression.
Friedman's thesis makes sense to me. The discovery of a whole new world would capture the imagination in a way that opened up a totally new realm of thinking and being.
Back to the present. It seems to me that our world again is mired in a depression of sorts. The world we inhabit definitely looks out of sorts. Use your own criteria, and I would say it's hard to see that our world is in better shape.
For some reason, I had also been thinking that if I were a time traveller back to the times of my boyhood, what would I tell the world I remember about the future? It occurred to me that in the '50s to the 70s, we generally held the assumption that our world would steadily improve through technology. We'd be able to feed the entire planet and make conflict unnecessary. We'd have limitless sources of clean power through the nuclear generation of electricity, and so on.
And here we are! We have fantastic technology in medicine, electronics, and so forth, but would anyone argue that our world or planet is in better shape for it?
Our world seems stuck in problems that technology doesn't seem to answer. So I wonder, Are there no new worlds?
If we were to receive a signal from space that there was intelligent life trying to communicate with us, that would be transformational for sure. But so far, no luck. Every year that goes by with no evidence makes the challenge more difficult because it means that if we did hear, that world becomes light year after light-year farther from us. We could have no real-time connection.
The transformation will come from how we view ourselves in this world. It must begin with a change of mind and heart. The apostle Paul said, "be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Don't let this present age press you into its mould. "Jesus said, "you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
It's a whole new world when you see it through an entirely new lens. If you're tired of the current view, try looking with the eyes of the creator.