Fun question for discussion

I am still perusing the “If” book and this one is an interesting puzzle?

“If you have to choose a time in history when overall things were worse than any other single time, when would you say it was?”

The temptation, of course, is to say now. The whole world is in a pandemic with millions dying. In the US politics is a nightmare. The earth is in danger. So many things are wrong. But then, having studied history a case could be made for quite a few other times.

Hitler wipes out at least 6 million Jews not to mention those who were dissenters, other nationalities or disabled. He brings war to Europe and England causing many other deaths.

It is estimated that the Black Plague wiped out 25 million people in much of the known world. It changed the face of Europe for ever.

The Great Chinese Famine wiped out tens of millions between 1958 and 1961. I was alive and a college student at that time and I don’t remember it ever hitting the news in this country. You would have thought that as a History Major I would at least have noticed it.

I am sure that I could go on citing things in the past that have changed the civilization of different groups. How important were these things in the big scheme? That is a question for interesting debate and a fun conversation for those studying Philosophy of History.

When would you choose?

6 thoughts on “Fun question for discussion

  1. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to name today as the worst time in history. Maybe that makes me wise, but more likely just fortunate. All my “perspective” would be hard to come by in the times you mentioned. Whenever I think of worst case scenario, I picture Nazi concentration camps. But Corrie Ten Boom, who was there, says “There is no pit so deep that [Jesus] is not deeper,” and I believe her.


  2. I think this question would be answered differently by those people who are living through the various hells at the different times in history. You are correct that you would need to be a history major to know of all the war, destitution, famine, disease and wholesale murder that has been carried out by various parties throughout history around the world. I would tend to go for the late 50’s to early 70’s when the Chinese Famine was prevalent, Vietnam spilled over into Laos, Cambodia and also Pol Pot with his horrific regime in Cambodia resulting in Year Zero and the “Killing Fields”. This was not taught in any detail at school here in the UK. It was treated as something from afar which wouldn’t concern those living here, duly distanced and suitably cocooned in the media driven world we are designed to inhabit. It was the time at which geo-politics came more into the living rooms of the “western world”. People were becoming more aware of what was happening round the world far faster than before when they were relying on newspaper reports which could have taken days to arrive and type up into a suitable prose.

    This does not however cover the dreadful situation around the world between mid 1930’s and late 1945 where millions were killed, displaced and tortured. The “final solution” was the pinnacle of the evil. The atrocities in China and the Far East during WW11 are still quite unknown to many.

    People can now make their minds up instantly when they read their social media streams and see the terror that stalks almost every nation now.


    1. Great thoughts. There are so many tragic times that happened in the world. You are right…many of them never touched us in any way. As I said, the Chinese famine was outside my radar. We think mostly about the ones that meant something to us. Great response to the post!

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      1. Such events as the famine are often outside many peoples radar. It happened far away, dont worry it doesnt affect “you” and there are other things to worry about. The reporting of people such as Peter Arnett helped to show those who were at home that the world wasnt as wonderful and cotton candy as the press would like you to believe. Neil Sheehan who wrote Bright Shining Lie brought the truth about what was going on to the newspapers of the many as they were travelling to and from their places of work or leisure. Now it is all instantaneous, and sadly those reporting it are taking great risks in shining alight on the dark worlds of intrigue, interference and state terror. People such as Marie Colvin and Anna Politkovskaya who were killed doing their job.


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