He thought that he could change the world,
But wakes to just another day;
He thought he’d see his name in lights,
But all those crowds have turned away —
He thought he’d cast a shadow firm,
And have some stroke, a little sway;
But now he sees that all of it
Was foolishness and naïveté.
He thought he’d find his love by now,
But she’s been hesitant to show;
He thought he’d travel round the world,
But he has yet to start to go —
He thought so many things before,
But sees now, with a dawning dread,
Those naive hopes are dead and gone,
And he’s left with himself
Human evil never falls out of fashion, partially because it changes its clothes from time to time.
There is an alternative view: namely,that human beings have progressed morally over time. This is a belief for which I find very little evidence; nevertheless, it has adherents.
It is a very, very basic underlying belief: that the world either is, or isn’t, getting better. It’s not really an objective question, so people are free to see it how they will. However, many other beliefs that people espouse end up being one form or another of one or other of these basic beliefs. I have heard these two views described as the “utopian” view and the “tragic” view, the difference being the view as to whether humanity really progresses, morally, or not. I tend towards the latter category.
Having said all of that, what may be true of humanity in general is not the same as what is true of individuals. In fact, generalities are a kind of unreality: useful, but frequently misleading. We as individual people have a responsibility to try to get better.
But we think any of us always does that — including you and me — it is a type of naïveté.
Which is part of who we are.
But which can be tragic.