Some weeks ago I wrote about this season of graduation events. I implied that speeches on those occasions are, on the whole, not eagerly anticipated but that they, nevertheless, are often very significant.
In response I heard from one reader who told of a speech given at a graduation event of a college in California by a woman named Stephany Mills.The title Miss Mills had given her speech was 'The Future is a Hoax'. She was very pessimistic about the future. She said she saw ahead an overpopulated world doomed to cannibalism, a horribly disfigured planet with humankind continuing to spread like an unfeeling cancer across the earth. The most human thing to do, she suggested, would be to have no children and to establish some form of population control.
Who of us has not had pessimistic thoughts about the future of the world...?
Edward Gibbon. the writer of The Decline of the Roman Empire, said, "History is little more than a registry of crimes, folly, and the misfortunes of mankind". Years ago Winston Churches said, toward the end of his career, something to the effect that among the family of nations there would be even more "failed states", an expression that was repeated often since. There will be countries with such chaotic societies facing such poverty that they become virtually ungovernable. The ugly clouds of conflict, distress, and famine hang heavy over many nations.
Global suffering is a regular component of world history but perhaps not to its present degree.
What shall we say?
The poet of Psalm 39 tells of life's woes. In Matthew 24 Jesus predicts a future of suffering on a world scale. But the poet of this Psalm 39 takes his recourse in prayer..."listen to my cry for help, O, Lord...". Romans 8 echoes Jesus' prediction of hardships, persecution, and famine. But then the writer fastens his eye on the Lord of heaven and earth and can triumphantly state: "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors." That is, for believers, a source of security and a program of service and action.