The Best and Worst of Times

It can be hard to make sense of the world at the best of times and even harder to make sense of it in the worst of times. Charles Dickens wrote that the best of times and the worst of times happened simultaneously, along with belief, incredulity, wisdom, foolishness, light, darkness, hope and despair. Perhaps he was right but it seems more likely to me that these things happen in different times in different measures in different places. 

A comfortable family in a developed nation has its share of badness, foolishness, darkness and despair, but not to the extent of a starving family in an undeveloped place. Similarly even those who starve may have in some small measure some goodness, wisdom, light and hope.

We wring our hands when we are confronted with the worst that life has to offer and suffer those torments because we have little choice. When we see those torments inflicted on others we sometimes rush to alleviate the symptoms but cannot cure the disease, which seems a disease spread by the greed and selfishness of some sections of humanity.


In our waking sleep we fail to solve problems because to us they are insoluble; we cannot change human nature despite the best efforts of religions and philosophers. Humanity lacks wisdom and goodness in sufficient quantity and such as it has is of insufficient quality.

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