A Thankless Nation

By Sabreen Maryam Ali

To read the morning newspaper in Britain today is to trudge through reams of dissent and disapproval with a worldly air of cynicism and self-importance. It is almost as if we rebel against the notion that things may be running smoothly. No—we must mark our target, cock our razor sharp tongues, and take aim. Our voices ring with pilfered authority, echoing judgmental and mistrustful opinions that may not have a basis. Any motion to improve a situation is always met with harsh criticism from the masses, and voices to the contrary are drowned out. Nothing can be accomplished correctly.

Ungratefulness in society is perhaps human nature. Schopenhauerʼs pessimistic ideology, ‘the world is essentially bad and ought not to be’, has its traces in society, but these are obscured by short-lived appreciativeness for what we have. Should everything in our lives give us cause for complaint? We are languishing in the epitome of a lose-lose situation—there will always exist opposition to any idea. Larger moves for change may be justified in eliciting this reaction, since change is unpredictable and frequently risky. As the recipients of change and those who will bear its consequences, we are vindicated in brandishing our own (or borrowed) opinions.

What irks the most is when the pungent smell of negativity crops up in a system that is working. Some may insist that there is no wrong in this, that challenging a method is what forces it to adapt and remold itself as other parameters shift. Criticism, though, should be constructive for it to be justified. Rants about the myriad problems in society only serve to fuel the fire of cynics who pick apart the threads of progress.

For instance, in a country where healthcare is free, there appear to be maddening numbers of individuals who imagine they can moan and whine their way to better health and an illness-free existence. In 2007, more than 61% of homes in the UK had access to the internet, with 84% of these connections being broadband-enabled. Yet, we still complain about how long it takes for a page to download (anything longer than tens seconds is met with outrage)—when there are whole nations with little concept of internet technology and free healthcare.

Granted, any system can be improved—no paragons of perfection exist for the taking. But while we strive to reach exemplary models, does it put that much strain on our shoulders to be appreciative of the existing ones? Especially those that have no immediate cause for complaint? Collective approval from the masses every so often might go a way to toppling a pessimistic outlook of the world. However, as mentioned before, any sustained assent seems almost unnatural to the human psyche—and itʼs never long before thankless voices make themselves heard once again.

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Written under a Creative Commons License, with edits: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/1.0/

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