Social upheaval is a driving force behind progress


I may be the only person eagerly anticipating the H1N1 virus while secretly hoping we will undergo a severe outbreak.

Not to romanticize a potentially devastating illness, but a little social chaos is exactly what our world needs. I find myself fantasizing about what might happen if H1N1 infested our schools and public buildings so severely that it became imperative they be closed down.

Despite a hurdle of that magnitude, I know we as a society would be able to adjust and re-build.
Learning from this outbreak, we would gain advanced scientific knowledge on the spread of diseases and in all likelihood discover a cure or method of prevention.

From a social standpoint, it would have brought families and communities closer together. I suppose my desire to face momentous adversity in my lifetime arises from a life of easy-living. It may sound well, easy, but living a life free from experiences that challenge your intellectual, moral and physical abilities can leave you feeling rather restless.

This restless feeling lingers throughout an entire generation who have been given everything on a silver platter and as such don’t possess national, communal or individual pride. We as a generation do not feel united because we’ve never had to band together in overcoming an obstacle.

Though global crisis and world wars have horrifying events and consequences, there is no doubt that these experiences define and strengthen the people of that generation.

In essence, the notion that war can be a positive thing can be viewed as a cold, utilitarian argument: justifying the existence of war as an institution in order to maintain a strong economy.
Yet, there is some truth to that. War has proved to be an effective solution for recovering from economic instability, especially in the case of the Second World War.

In addition, the world wars have provided modern humanity with numerous positive benefits, such as progression in social, political and scientific fields. It was during the First World War with few men present that women took up their place in the workforce; it was these working women who challenged the patriarchal structure of society, allowing for the first wave of feminism to take flight.

In addition, the natural human instinct to survive in combat has allowed for various inventions and advancements.

Technical advancements saw the increased development of the submarine, aeroplane and railroad.

Progressive organizational skills were required for logistical support, communications and intelligence, which were improved greatly in this time.

Possibly the most widely appreciated benefit of the First and Second World Wars was the medical growth, including surgical innovations, improved techniques and chemical medicines.

The widespread use of penicillin and Pepto Bismol are both products of war inventions.

Beyond the scientific and technical innovations sparked by war, what I regard to be the most significant impact was the conception of national pride.

Nationalism was not something Canada possessed until Vimy Ridge. After that achievement, we united together as a country, feeling for the first time a sense of union amongst ourselves. This feeling has long since subsided.

It is essential to realize that the First World War was meant to be the war to end all wars.

Those who fought sacrificed themselves so that the future generations would never have to experience the devastation war produces.

Not to disregard their courageous objectives, it is simply that their honourable intention did not account for unprecedented selfishness.

We have become a country of disconnected teenagers who feel a sense of entitlement towards material possessions and a life without hardships.

Impacting all of us is our unpreparedness for reality or the ability to deal with hardships if or when they may come. I am not campaigning for a Third World War but encouraging that we recognize the sacrifices made which gave us the opportunity to acquire our prized material possessions.

It should not take a world war or global crisis for us to appreciate the things in life which truly matter and be grateful for what we have.

This however seems to be the only way of learning; perhaps we cannot appreciate the good without the evil. Nor can we grow as individuals or as a community without being challenged in our lifetime.

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