Good Times Are A Rare Blessing
December 1st, 2020 | JH
Around this time of year, Christians love to recite the baby Jesus in the manger story. Putting aside the fact that a manger is a feeding trough in a stable with barnyard animals in it and a dirt floor with animal feces kicking around, and putting aside that nighttime temperatures were likely crisp, and putting aside the fact that Joseph and Mary were, basically, on the run from government officials trying to kill them… it’s a romantic little story about finding humble shelter for the Son of God.
After the Jesus in the manger episode, King Herod went full maniac and ordered the deaths of all male children under the age of two in the town of Bethlehem. Joseph had a heads-up alert and ran to Egypt and escaped the slaughter. After Herod died, they returned to Israel and raised Jesus quietly in Nazareth until the story kind of jumps ahead to when Jesus is a fully grown adult.
One thing that many modern people living in developed countries struggle with regarding the bible is just how severely hardcore it is.
We live a life of comfort and ease and security and peace. We take the basics for granted, but it was only about three generations ago that most people in Canada didn’t have running water or electricity. When my great grandfather moved to Saskatchewan about a hundred years ago, he spent his first winter living in a hole in the ground that he dug himself. People in this country literally starved to death and children routinely died of diseases that we easily vaccinate against today.
Go back in time two hundred years and the violence and filth and hardships were unimaginable by today’s standards. Developed cities like New York and London required people to heavily arm themselves just to walk outside. Child prostitutes swarmed the streets, and the coal smoke was as thick as a heavy fog. Horrific working conditions prevailed, and people lived short, unhealthy, brutal lives. Movies like Gangs of New York provide a good illustration of these times.
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Go back in time further and you’ve got constant states of war and oppression. Rampant slavery and violence and persecution. Mass famines and pandemics that killed a third of the population. Watch shows like Vikings to get a taste of history from the fall of the Roman Empire until Columbus sailed the ocean blue. It’s basically a thousand year stretch of everything described in this paragraph.
Which brings us to biblical times. Christians being crucified and thrown to lions. Malicious and nefarious rulers that torture and war for kicks. Strange cults. Human sacrifice. Torture. Rape. Murder. Plagues.
Combine Conan the Barbarian with a Mad Max movie and you’re probably fairly close to the lifestyles of people in biblical times.
Now granted, there were many days where people did just fine. Life was lived and meals were eaten, and joy was experienced, and comfort was enjoyed, but these blessings were less prevalent and not taken for granted and they existed within the constant dread of the context of events described above. Life was still hardcore in a way that modern people have trouble understanding today.
This is a big part of the explanation for why religion is on the decline in developed countries. When life is naturally miserable and hard, people reach out for meaning and hope. When life is easy and rich, people start focusing on the trivial and the frivolous. Events depicted in the bible start looking more and more foreign and unfamiliar. This foreign and unfamiliar experience leads many modern people to dismiss the bible as a violent and backwards book from a bygone era. Something that we no longer need because we’ve progressed beyond the need for it. We’re a peaceful and prosperous and enlightened people and being anything less than that is unimaginable.
Peace and prosperity and enlightenment are not historical norms. The times may have changed, but people haven’t. In large swaths of the world today people are living lives that aren’t that much different from the examples cited above. There are 26 million refugees fleeing their lands due to war, persecution and famine. There are 40 million slaves being trafficked around the globe, mostly for sexual exploitation. There are concentration camps in China and North Korea. There are warlords killing and raping their way around Africa. The scourge of poverty, hunger, disease and pollution ravage many people’s lives just as badly or worse than they did 100 or 1000 years ago.
This Christmas, whether you’re a Christian or not, remember that good times are a blessing, but they are not guaranteed to last… and for many people the good times aren’t lasting now. Try to keep a bigger perspective and cultivate a spirit of gratitude, graciousness and generosity. As the bible illustrates, it can always be worse.
As annoying as our politicians are, none of them are ordering the mass slaughter of male infants under the age of two. As precarious as our economy is, nobody is literally starving to death or wintering in a hole in the ground they dug themselves. As detrimental as Covid-19 is, people aren’t burning haystack-sized piles of dead bodies in the streets for as far as the eye can see. As concerning as pollution is, real improvements are being made all the time with technology leading the way.
I’ve done a lot of black-pilled writing for Poletical over the past year and I hope our readers aren’t too depressed. While it doesn’t hurt to prepare for the worst, one also needs to recognize the positive signals all around us. There are plenty of green shoots on the ground and people should never give in to despair. There is a bright side to look upon… so let’s remember to look.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
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