In the past religious faith used to be a great prop to human beings in times of distress or misfortune. The belief that whatever God did was for the good of human beings served as a great-consolation to people when a natural calamity fell upon them.
The difficulties, disappointments and failures were attributed to God’s will and people bowed without much questioning. But now those spiritual beliefs have more or less gone. We now ask if life has any purpose at all. We now feel confused and perplexed.
The decline in religious faith has led also to the loss of the spiritual values of life. Our forefathers had the ideal of charity, sympathy, fellow-feeling, brotherhood of man, etc. Now people have become utterly materialistic and pleasure minded. Everyone wants to make as much money as possible by fair means or foul.
Honesty and integrity are things of the past. Now there is a mad scramble for money and power.
In a way, however, we are happier than our forefathers. Our forefathers were the victims of illiteracy, ignorance and superstitions. Ignorance might mean bliss, but this is the bliss of intellectual non-existence or mental blankness. We today are literate and educated. We now know many secrets of nature which were unknown to our forefathers. We experience an intellectual thrill when we acquire more and more knowledge. We have not more or less got rid of superstitions and imaginary fears, nor are we any more victims of a sense of fatalism.
Our forefathers used to attribute everything to the will of fate. But we now feel that our fate is in our own hands. We experience a sort of liberation from the restrictive influence of fate.
If we talk of wealth, it is today more equitably distributed than before. Socialistic trends all over the world have narrowed the gap between the rich and the poor. In the days of our forefathers, poverty was regarded as part of the divine scheme of things and was passively accepted by the people.
Now the attitude towards poverty has greatly changed. Poverty is now looked upon as an evil which can be, and must be, removed. The rich classes do not now have that sense of complacency and they do not now take their wealth for granted.
We are also happier in the sense that we enjoy better health than our forefathers. Various discoveries and inventions by science have made it possible to prevent diseases, to eliminate or cure them. We live cleaner lives, in accordance with the rules of sanitation than our forefathers could ever do.
Good health depends much of the happiness of mankind, and the health of mankind today is better than ever before. Physical fitness keeps us happy and enables us to derive genuine pleasure from eating, drinking, sports and games and all sorts of recreational activities.
Total we have greater freedom than our forefathers had. Freedom too is an essential condition of happiness. We no longer feel wretched because of any rigid restraints. Woman is today emancipated. The young are no longer in the tight grip of their elders but enjoy a measure of independence unknown before.
The joint family system in our country has crumbled, thus diminishing greatly the wretchedness and misery of those who were its victims. There is greater freedom to love, and here too parental control over boys and girls has been considerably relaxed.
Physical comforts have gone up. Scientific inventions of our times have made life easier by greatly diminishing the need for manual labour or physical exertion. We have more leisure and along with leisure we have many more sources of pleasure. Physical comfort, leisure and pleasure have surely increased and augmented human happiness.