Why Many Despair

Around the world, disturbing trends are causing fear of the future. In a growing number of cities, surveillance cameras monitor citizens. Because of fear of terrorists, many busy airports have almost become military camps. Prowling the Internet in growing numbers, thieves and pedophiles prey on unsuspecting victims. On the environmental front, pollution, deforestation, extinction, and global warming threaten future life on our planet.

UNTHINKABLE two or three generations ago, these concerns are global today. For good reason many people wonder what is happening to the world and what kind of life awaits them and their children. Is the time coming when people will be too afraid to board a bus, a train, or a plane? With prices rising and earth’s resources being taxed more and more, will future generations be able to afford good medical care, quality food, and sufficient fuel?

“The future looks very, very scary,” said a Canadian health minister in regard to rising health costs. Alarm bells are also sounding with regard to food and fuel. Why? In order to reduce their dependency on fossil fuel, some countries are investing heavily in biofuel, such as ethanol, which is derived from vegetation. Hence, for the first time in history, the human stomach is competing with the automotive gas tank for the produce of available land. The resulting inflation in food prices is already being felt.

Meanwhile, the disparity between the rich and the poor is growing, adding to social tensions. “In this first decade of the 21st century, immense advances in human well-being coexist with extreme deprivation,” says a World Health Organization report. “Life expectancies have collapsed in some of the poorest countries to half the level of the richest.” The causes are primarily disease and social and economic chaos in politically failed states.

Throw into this mix the specter of global warming, which may cause increased desertification and more extreme weather, and it comes as no surprise that many informed people are jittery about tomorrow. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which sets the so-called Doomsday Clock, expressed fears of a bleak future “as scientists continue to observe cascading effects [of global warming] on Earth’s complex ecosystems.”

Are our prospects as bleak as they appear to be? Does our only hope for a decent future depend on the leaders of business, politics, religion, and science? ‘What other choice do we have?’ some say. ‘We got ourselves into this mess; we have to get ourselves out.’ Others feel that it is simply beyond the ability of humans to find the way out and that our only hope for a safe and secure future lies with God. If so, what assurance do we have that God is interested in us, that he will save us from ourselves? The following articles will address these questions.

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Does our only hope for a decent future depend on the leaders of business, politics, religion, and science?