I suspect there are few people left who don’t think there’s something very wrong in the world today, whatever their political and moral leanings might be. It has always been so, more or less. Some epochs are better, others worse, but all are a mess. Ours, however, seems to be particularly messy: the culture is in the toilet, ready to be flushed; there are few if any unbiased news media to speak of, in our country or elsewhere; churches and other houses or worship are not consistently accessible, if they are open at all; people are terrified to go outside or see other human beings; politics are viciously antagonistic and politicians transparently dishonest; too many protests are now only “mostly peaceful”; our young people are being ideologized in school at least as much as they are actually learning something; and even sports, now serving as propaganda, have become almost unwatchable.
Every day seems to confirm anew that something is deeply wrong, and quite stupid, about the world. Our friends south of the border are presently embroiled in the most confused, confusing, and, almost certainly, scandalous election in an ostensibly free civil society in recent memory, if not ever. Our Pope keeps making statements that would clearly contradict Church doctrine if it weren’t for the ambiguity, weaponized or not, of his word salads. Our Prime Minster seems to want to set the Canadian record for ethics violations. And I still have to preregister to go to Mass. What, indeed, is wrong with the world?
Many great writers have considered this issue. I am particularly fond of G.K. Chesterton’s attempt in What’s Wrong with the World?, as good a critique of the modern world as any, and still relevant. The book begins with a criticism of the “modern madness for biological or bodily metaphors.” Chesterton observes that modern man, influenced by a kind of reductionistic sociologizing, tends to treat the social world on analogy with the body, approaching the shared human world and its problems as a doctor diagnosing a patient: observe the symptoms, analyze the anatomy of the patient to find the cause, and prescribe the cure accordingly.