A friend of mine tells me we live in the cycle of Kali Yuga. Hinduism explains that the world consists of long timelines of mankind where ethical values differ; where each ethical period could be thousands of years.
Kali Yuga is the period when man's principles have sunk; where man's principles and his ethical values have plummeted. Kali Yuga is a period where, for example, the neglect of wisdom and God has been replaced by an obsession for money, material gain, status and sexual conquest. Where wives no longer listen to their husbands, nor husbands respect their wives and where children no longer obey their parents. People in society are no longer respected for the good they do but for the wealth they ostentiously parade.
"…In the age of Kali there is no contentment, nor discernment, nor composure. People of all classes, whether high or low, have taken to begging. Envy, harsh words and covetousness are rampant; while evenness of mind is absent. The duties and rules of conduct prescribed for the four orders of society and stages in life are neglected. Self-control, charity, compassion and wisdom disappear while stupidity and fraud multiply to a large extent. Men and women all pamper their body; while slanderers are diffused all over the world." Selected texts from Sri Ramacharitamanasa of Sant Tulasidas, Uttar-kanda, verses from 96-103
It is easy to see this as a parallel to modern society, especially with globalisation of tabloid newspapers – regarding the last line. However I argued with my friend against any sort of fixed belief like this because it is fatalistic and implies the future is already known and can't be changed. If we believe that the future is fixed then why should anyone make any effort to improve it?
Do we deal with the horrors that are presented before us in our own localities/ lifetimes or do we just complacently say, "that is the fallen way of man". Surely we must, with mind body and sinew do what we can to create a just and fair society.
I do not believe that passivity is the answer – it is effectively compliance. Nor would I would suggest violence. I think Hindus (and Buddhists and Christians) must speak out publicly, through any media they can access. It is too easy to be defeatist. One major problem with some of the religious is that because they are 'saved' there is a tendency to spend little effort to improve things in a worldly way. Too many are more focused on the afterlife than improving the one they live in. Surely the wisdom of religion (even if it seems a Sisyphean task at times) is to fight to change the world for the better.