The other morning, a couple of proselytizers from the Jehovah’s Witnesses came to visit me. We had a simple discussion of the Bible and I was invited to attend one of their meetings. They were friendly although they struggled with answers they were not prepared for. One of them was to the question “Do you believe the world is getting worse?” I answered “Yes” and they were rather surprised. One of the ladies said no one has ever said “yes.” This post will share my reasons for why.
I know when the ladies go asking this question, they are trained to do so because it is expected the answer is going to be a no. This naturally leads into their discussion about the importance for the Second Coming of Christ, an event I believe has already happened. However, this won’t be a theological discussion but instead focus entirely on perspective. You see, those who proselytize also believe the world is getting worse and I feel hope everyone feels the same. This is sad because to me, this means they are seeing the world through a very narrow scope, one that is self-centered and not God oriented. They also hope those they meet are the same so as to compel church attendance and maybe membership. This is slightly manipulative and denies an opportunity for truth.
I would say though that this phenomena is not exclusive to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. As they go door-to-door, they will be coming across people of all walks of life. They will meet the religious and irreligious, the educated and uneducated, man and woman, young and old, and every skin color which the world has to offer. The vast majority of this entire population has found it acceptable to believe the world is getting worse yet hope for a better tomorrow. Even in the political arena, when I listen to talk shows like the conservative Rush Limbaugh or the progressive Thom Hartmann, the general sentiment is that things are getting worse but there are pathways to making them better.
I would like to offer my perspective on this matter since I really do believe the world is getting better. As the proselytizers were hoping to teach me about Jesus, I figured I would focus on when Jesus first existed in the flesh, in the early days of the Julian calendar.
The Time of Jesus 1.0
You see, most who are called Christian profess their belief in Jesus. Despite this belief, they believe the world is getting worse which means Jesus 1.0 no longer has a positive effect in this world. This is a poor expression of faith and denies the truth. What was the world like when Jesus walked amongst the people in Palestine, then of the Roman Empire? What was it like to be poor? What was it like to be wealthy? What was it like to be Julius Caesar, the most powerful man in the world? Yes, I know Julius was not alive when the ministry of Jesus took place, but for symbolism and the fact people believe the calendar which Julius started was started because of Jesus, I figure why not? Julius Caesar was wealthy, well-traveled, and a symbol of the best civilization was offering at the time, at least in Europe and the Middle East.
How is My Life Better than Caesar’s?
The following will be brief observations about how my life is better than Caesar’s
- My life expectancy of about 80 years is greater than the life expectancy of any Roman, to include Caesar. Caesar was famously killed at 56 years, but for the entire population the average was 25 years. If a baby survived into adulthood, they might be able to have reached 60. Today, I and most others can expect to live longer than the longest lived people of the Roman Empire. The worst country in the world today for life expectancy is Swaziland currently at 49 years. Our worst today is nearly twice as good as that in the time of Jesus.
- It is suggested Julius Caesar when traveling to various war spots in Europe, could travel about 100 miles per day over the course of 8 days. The most powerful man in the world at the time of Jesus thus would travel 800 miles in a little over a week. I can currently drive 800 miles in about 12 hours or fly 800 miles in about 3-4 hours. I can move about this world today better than Julius Caesar ever could.
- Julius Caesar was a Roman, whose capital Rome is in the current state of Italy. What was Roman food like, or old Italian food? I have the luxury of having marinara sauce made from tomatoes, a food Romans never would have experienced. Only when the Native Americans were discovered could Italians create their famous tomato based pasta sauces. Yes, I eat more delicious and flavorful foods than Caesar could ever dream of.
- When Caesar was alive, the world was at a constant state of war for land and resources. Borders were always changing. Today, I live in a world where such war is rare and borders hardly changed. When Russia took Crimea a few years ago, this was only the 2nd time a border in the entire world changed this decade and this was with no bloodshed. The world is more closely linked and peaceful than it was when Caesar lived.
- Finally, when Caesar lived, what would happen to his poo? Rome being the wealthiest city in its time, did not have toilets. There was fresh water, there was somewhat of a sewer system, but these systems were not linked. Poo often had to be carted off, passing by people. Caesar, when he would have to go about the streets or to other locations, had to smell the poo of others and had to get his own poo out of the way. The air and water all around me is fairly clean with barely a foul odor.
There are many many ways I could go on about how my life is better than Caesar’s. For all intents and purposes, my lifestyle is greater than the most powerful King during the era which Jesus lived. I am not a King and I am considered squarely in the American middle class. Caesar would envy my life. Caesar would envy your life.
Since Jesus first walked among us, life did improve. The only problem I see is our expectations change. We expect to be able to communicate with anyone in the world in an instant, to feel electricity powered fans, air-conditioners, and heaters to give us a comfortable temperature, to move about our environment with increasing speeds, dress in elaborate clothing, adorn ourselves with precious metals and gems, and eat any food we desire. We can raise our families in relative peace and security. Imagine Rome in the year 0 A.D. with no night-time lighting, no police, narrow streets, the smell of poo, and not knowing what is in those dark streets. Even in the most oppressive societies of Saudi Arabia and North Korea, people still go about their lives with much greater freedom than the people of ancient Rome.
If we open our eyes and our perspectives to look beyond ourselves, we can see a world which is getting better. My grandparents suffered through the Great Depression and World War II, and my life is better than theirs. Each generation things improve. We do not need a Jesus to return to make our lives better because God is constantly guiding us to a better world. We should be more grateful for what we have, grateful that we do not have the lifestyle of those in the ancient days, and grateful we have opportunities to seek our purpose rather than our purpose being decided for us. Life is better. This is the Good News. This is the Gospel. This is the effect Jesus had on society as well as all the Manifestations of God have had upon our world.