We believe that we live in a wonderful era, an era of all round progress. We think that we have excelled and surpassed our forefathers in almost every respect. The twentieth century seems to us a glorious age and we pride ourselves on its achievements.
No doubt, there is justification for this satisfaction and complacency. The science has made tremendous progress. The use of machine in industry has eliminated human labour.
Electricity is serving us in thousand ways. Railways, ships and aeroplanes have annihilated distance and made travel fast and comfortable. The telephone and the telegraph have made communication swift and easy. The cinema, the radio and television have added a new charm to life. Medicine and surgery have made immense strides.
Atomic energy has brought in numerous benefits upon mankind. The wonders and miracles of science would justify us in paying a tribute to modern civilization.
Apart from scientific progress that makes our civilization so great, politically also much has been achieved. Countries under foreign domination have been liberated. Our age has seen many countries under foreign domination being liberated.
In the social sphere, our progress is no less marked; outdated customs are vanishing; the standard of living of people is rising. The working class is getting better wages and more facilities. The world percentage of literacy has greatly risen.
Besides, we have achieved a higher level of culture than was reached by our ancestors. We live in a truly enlightened age. There is greater refinement than ever before. People have become polished in their manners and behaviour. There is a widespread appreciation of art and literature; a keen interest is evinced in books, periodicals, paintings, music, dancing, exhibitions and the like.
There is, however, a dark side of the picture as well and in any examination of modern civilization, we must not shut our eyes to it. A closer scrutiny of modern civilization will reveal its defects. In the political field, for instance, there is much cause for dismay and disappointment. Our age has been witness to two great wars that have affected humanity.
Democracy has had to face serious challenges and suffer serious setbacks. The rise of Fascism and Nazism, and Communism has been a serious menace to liberty and democracy. The loss of life and property in the two world wars was incalculable. And the destruction caused in these wars was chiefly due to the deadly weapons invented by science.
This shows that scientific progress has not been an unmixed blessing. Long-range guns, flying bombs, magnetic mines, submarines, poisonous gases and, above all the atom bomb and other nuclear weapons, represent the destructive side of science.
Again, our industrial civilization has produced an adverse effect upon health and beauty. We have to live in congested towns and breathe air that is adulterated with factory smoke. The use of machinery has proved a mixed blessing.
The search of excitement, for pleasure, for new sensations is the order of the day. The craze for fashions in dress is widespread. All these tendencies are reflected in books, periodicals, paintings and films. There is a bloom of pornography in literature. Pictures in the nude are becoming popular. Obscenity is defended in the name of art.
Religion seems to have no place in modern civilization. Science has shaken people’s faith in God. God and the soul are now antiquated concepts. Our civilization is purely materialistic. Spiritual values no longer govern the actions of people. With the loss of spiritual faith, people have also lost their main support and source of consolation in the hour of distress. There is an increasing dissatisfaction with life. Men do not know what to live for. Boredom with life and a feeling of ennui reflect their frame of mind. Thus a general restlessness prevails in society.