Celestine Ojike from Nigeria studies at the University of New Mexico.

We are not Happier than Our Forefathers

Celestine Ojike from Nigeria studying at the University of New Mexico shares his thoughts on why perhaps people who came many generations before us were in fact happier than what we are today.

Celestine Ojike submitted this article to International Student Voice Magazine. 

Is this another case of `The old is always better`? I argue that our great-great-great grandparents and their children lived much happier than us. It may sound very absurd to say that people who had no electricity, no telephones, no car, no airplane, no movies, no radio, and no television were happier and more satisfied. Though there are many breakthroughs in science and technology, the modern people lack global peace and unity; healthy environment, and spiritual or moral values that are the indices of happiness and contentment, which were prevalent in the time of our forefathers.

The biggest danger facing the world today is war which threatens global peace and unity. There is the rise of Jihadi terrorism in the world, Islamist terror group ISIS in Iraq and Syria claiming most of the terror attacks in Europe and America; wars in the South China Sea; Boko Haram in Nigeria and some other parts of Africa and; North Korea threatening the US. Also, there are Brexit and fractured European Union. Some may argue that there were wars in the time of our forefathers and it is not later generations that started war, in the first place. I agree that wars were present at the time of our fore relatives but not of this huge magnitude, dimension, and sophistication. Riddle expressed this view more vividly.

Riddle (2017) said World War II was the deadliest war ever known to man. Lasting for six long years not so long ago, the Second World War saw the same technological advances that World War I saw, only significantly increased. War was more widespread than ever and civilians suffered an extreme amount as well, thanks to the Holocaust and the development of nuclear warfare. As the last major war in modern history and the worst to date, it leaves some wondering what the next great war will mean for the Earth’s future (para.11).

Our forefathers engaged in wars to scare their enemies and not to kill them in their millions with hydrogen bombs. Before it was war around the borders, one country`s soldiers engaging the other to maintain territorial integrity. But, today it is a war within and outside the borders in the form of terrorism. There is no haven. So, happiness and contentment cannot be experienced when the enemy is within, ready to cause havoc.

The simple lifestyle of our forefathers made them close to nature and friends to the environment. The result is that they had a healthy atmosphere, natural water, and food. Little wonder, their lifespan was above 80 years. One may argue that modern civilization has advanced almost every sphere of our life. It has assured us of mass production of goods and services; faster means of transportation and communication; improvement in public health and hygiene. I acknowledge the fact that modern civilization has, through science and technology, given humans many things to enjoy that our forefathers had no access to, such as electricity and its by-products. But the same civilization has created more than ever huge environmental degradations in the form of industrial wastes littering the land, air, and seas as pollutions which in turn have a direct link to a large number of deaths.

According to Kennedy, (2016), the World Health Organization said on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 that 92 percent of the world’s population breathes air containing pollutants exceeding WHO limits, resulting in the following number of deaths: The WHO Western Pacific and South-East Asia regions bear most of the burden with 1.1 million and 799 000 deaths, respectively. In other regions, about 211 000 deaths occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa, 194 000 in the Eastern Mediterranean region, 190 000 in Europe, and 93 000 in the Americas. The remaining deaths occur in high-income countries of Europe (289 000), the Americas (44 000), Western Pacific (44 000), and Eastern Mediterranean (10 000) (para.8).

These environmental degradations continue not only to threaten lives but warm the globe. One may say there are laws and agencies for the protection of environments, but the fact is that most of the countries do not have the will to successfully implement those laws. Jesse, (2015) used the table below to show some of the countries like Haiti, Malaysia and Namibia scored lowest on the index of environmental democracy laws due to lack of political will on the part of their respective governments. (para.3).

Moreover, prevention is better than cure. So, how can we be happier when in our attempt to solve one problem we create three?

Furthermore, we have recorded the highest advancement in material civilization but we don`t have the equivalent progress in spiritual/moral development. What we have is moral decadence. Decadence here means the behavior that shows a love of self-indulgence, pleasure, and money, or the process of decline or decay in society’s ethical and moral traditions. All the problems that were mentioned above, wars and destruction of the environment, threatening the lives of humans and natural habitats were all man-made not plant or animal-made. Something positive needs to be done to change the modern mindset. Our forefathers held life and environment very sacred or unique, especially human life but it is not the case today. There are many claims to religion and humanism but it seems they do little to influence the character of humans positively. Yuriy highlighted this ugly situation in a very elaborative way.

Yuriy, (2015), said that the number one reason older people say that it’s the end of the world is that our generation is ‘so much worse’ than any other in the history of the world. They proudly say the Pagans and atheists of their day were better than Christians today are. They gladly point to the 50 percent divorce rate, the prevalence of pornography, homosexuality, drugs, gangs… and so forth. Secular culture has progressively grown more depraved and perverted. (para.1&2).

Finally, to defend my position that we are not happier than our forefathers I argue that they had more global peace, they were environmentally friendly and had a higher sense of morals than us. Yes, they lived in villages and there were no scientific inventions as we have them today but they lived happier because they were very close to and friendly with nature. Also, they were very conscious of their common origin so the easily resolve conflicts because they see themselves as one family. Until material and spiritual developments are advanced and balanced, happiness and contentment will continue to elude the modern generation.

Jesse, W. (2015, May 20). The Best and Worst Countries for Environmental Democracy. Retrieved December 02, 2017, from http://www.wri.org/blog/2015/05/best-and-worst-countries-environmental-democracy

Kennedy, M. (2016, September 27). 92 Percent of The World’s Population Breathes Substandard Air, WHO Says. Retrieved November 28, 2017, from https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/09/27/495654086/who-says-92-percent-of-the-worlds-population-breathes-sub-standard-air

Riddle, L. (2017, June 18). Casualties of War – Deadliest Conflicts in Human History. Retrieved November 28, 2017, from https://www.warhistoryonline.com/instant-articles/casualties-war-ten-deadliest-conflicts-human-history-m.html

Yuriy, (2015, September 25). Is Humanity is More Depraved Than Before? Retrieved November 28, 2017, from http://yuriystasyuk.com/is-humanity-is-more-depraved-than-before/

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