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Has the West really lost its way or is this just a passing phase?

By Nina Steele 

My husband and I were discussing current affairs the other day and inevitably, the subject moved to the state of the world as a whole, particularly the West. We both agreed that there is something inherently wrong in our society today.

I am a fierce believer in capitalism and even the once mighty communist states are now capitalist in all but name. Unlike the old communist model, competition which is the catalyst for innovation has led to advances in Western societies that have impacted greatly on its people and changed the way we live forever.

The rest of the world too, is benefiting from Western innovations in a way never seen before. For example, thanks to mobile phones, communication is now very easy for many people in Africa, including those living in rural areas. Regardless of what some people may think, the hegemony of the West is still as potent as before. Where do rich Russians, Chinese and Arabs spend their money? You guessed it!

In spite of all that, there is currently a sense that the West has lost its way. Not because it has become less competitive or innovative, but because of the gradual erosion of the strong values that underpin great societies. Today all around us, the talk seems to be about triviality. From acquiring the latest smart phone, to endless discussions about celebrity bodies and their lives. Has the fact that many people in the West no longer have to struggle for the basic things in life, made them that frivolous? Because I cannot think of anything else that will make people become so superficial.

I mean if you have to fight to eat, chances are that you will not care what this or that celebrity has done to their hair or whether or not they have had plastic surgery or whatever else they happen to be doing. Of course the counterargument could be that this is a passing phase and at some point, people will realise that material possessions alone are not enough to achieve happiness and as we all know, celebrities come and go.

I totally get how anyone can become depressed at the state of things today, after all, I am a childless person living in a child centric world and I have to deal with all the prejudices that come with that, in addition to everything else! However, I am of the second view that this is a passing phase. We are already witnessing a movement away from the worship of materialism and a return to living simpler and more balanced lives.

As more and more people change, so will society as a whole. I don’t believe that the West will go the way of the Roman Empire, destroyed, in part by the excesses of its people. Maybe I am too much of an optimist, but I don’t see us going the same way. Yes things may get worse, but ultimately, the human spirit will prevail.

That we are able to talk about these things is in itself a step in the right direction. It would be far worse if we all pretended that everything was fine and buried our collective heads in the sand. We are all responsible for our world and the duty to make it a better place falls on every single one of us.

Nina Steele

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