Acton Notes - President's Message

Many people I know are rather despairing about our future. This is contributing to a real and growing pessimism throughout society. I can understand all of these feelings but there is a potential mistake here. I've begun to think that those who are too attached to the day's headline news develop a bias toward thinking that the world is on a permanent downhill slide. The mistake is looking only at the bad things we know about without considering the good trends for the future.

Consider, for example, all the amazing technologies we are benefiting from today that would have been unheard and unimagined five or ten years ago. Digital communications—fueled by private investments, the market economy, and entrepreneurial risk— have connected the world as never before, making life much more efficient and easing poverty. These technologies have spread art, beauty, and truth across the globe.

The very nature of the market economy, which is an extension of human action and choice, is that we can't anticipate its results ahead of time. Markets are constantly surprising us with new ways of communicating, healing, teaching, creating, interacting. In a way, it reflects God's restoration of creation. Because we cannot know the shape of the future precisely, we tend to look only at the bad trends and form an overall picture that can be very bleak.

Such a bleak outlook on life can also cause us not to seize on the special opportunities that our times have given us for living out the dream of a free and virtuous life. If we understand free markets and the astounding way in which the Lord delivers us from despairing about our contemporary politics, we would temper our pessimism to realize that blessings can come to us when we least expect them.

Our age has given every living generation a difficult challenge. This challenge is unlike any we've faced in our past. Through prayer and hard work, we can build a beautiful future for truth and liberty. This is what we are working toward at the Acton Institute, and we are grateful for your support.

Rev. Robert Sirico, President