The Four Horsemen Illustration

The Four Horsemen of the Modern Apocalypse

While you can come up with many ideas about what problems befall modern society, Ignorance, sin, arrogance, pride. I feel there are some that have been left out.

I call these maladies the horsemen, after the Horsemen of the Apocalypse from scripture. In scripture, they were Conquest, War, Famine and Death.

Today I feel it’s different, at least in the west, where such problems have been mostly overcome.

Today’s problems are deeper felt, with existence and reflect and emptiness I feel lodged at the heart of modern society.

They are.

Powerlessness, worthlessness, meaningless and loneliness.

I will go through each one in turn.

What’s important to note beforehand is that these problems tend to feed on each other. Creating the ‘perfect storm’ of mediocrity, isolation and despair.


So much of our society saps our power to change, not only our desire, but also or capacity. Distractions pull us in so many directions so that we can’t concentrate on our work.

We find ourselves falling into surfing the web, watching TV and never changing our lives for the better. We accept whatever crappy job we can get, and relationships that are not doing anything for us, perhaps even poisonous.

We are supplied with endless ideas about what to do with our energy, money and time. So much so that our lives are filled with endless desires. Yet we never seem to take action.

We have become stuck on a treadmill, never finding time to stop and ask ourselves if what we are doing matters to us. All this leaves us feeling we’re puppets dancing to the tune of our desires, flitting from one to the next.

We see so much wrong with the world that we become demoralised at the thought of changing it. So we end up feeling incapable, paralysed by indecision or convinced that we will never be good enough.

A jaded pessimism sets in, a resignation to whatever fate befalls us.

This Learned Helplessness becomes a modern malaise. Keeping people mediocre, docile, and manageable.


We never feel good enough do we?

The modern world constantly tells us that we should be richer, smarter, better looking, and more powerful to be seen as living a life to the full.

So we chase dreams in the hopes of feeling happy and satisfied, only to find they are still out of reach.

We feel ashamed that we don’t match up to this level of perfection and purity.

The world also seems to want to make us feel ashamed. About the flaws and weakness we have. Being angry, afraid, or anxious. Being overweight, mentally ill, or disabled. You are not good enough because you’re a man, a woman, black, white, poor, average, gay, young, old.

The world discriminates against you for being who you are, or that you are struggling with life.

All this gives us a fear opening up to others. Being vulnerable is too scary because we might get rejected. So we keep ourselves closed off, hiding behind a mask of acceptability.

It becomes a vicious circle with shame and lack of self-worth fueling the fear of rejection.  But the isolation leaves us feeling worthless because we are not truly connecting to each other. People see the mask not the real you.

Loneliness is the result and is one of the most frequent of the maladies affecting the world.


“Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.” – Viktor Frankl.

Another problem we are facing now is the fallout from the dismantling of religion. It’s been a long time in coming, but without God instead we turned towards science and consumerism. Both have proven to be woefully inadequate when it comes to giving us guidance about life.

So instead, we undertake a long search. Supplied by the self-help, personal development movement. As well as other disciplines like philosophy and alternative religions.

Despite all the searching, all the books, all the ideas, the ultimate truth still eludes us.

We often feel adrift, without something solid to anchor our lives around. A state of meaningless and anxiety can hit us. We feel lost, without direction.

The problem that there’s no guide on what it means to be human, what matters, and what to do.


The most important one is loneliness. Without other people we feel our problems, our struggle more keenly.

When you are alone you are more vulnerable. Your chances of success are dubious because success depends on other people. You don’t feel valued or that your life had meaning. You don’t feel though you are becoming stronger, and you can’t see anything changing for the better.

The key is connection, because relationships get you the other three.

Connections are the means by which we find all the success and happiness we are looking for.

These four maladies of the modern world are now more sharply felt. There’s a feeling of desolation. A barrenness to life.

We try to ignore them, drown out those feelings with addictions and distractions. But in those rare moments when we consider our lives they rise up as the fears and doubts we feel.

How we face these fears is the difference between a life of desolation or a life of abundance.

Do you feel any of the above?

What is it that you are afraid of?

Have I left any fears out?

Please comment below.

Image Credit: Waiting for the Word. The Four Horseman. Copyright 2011 Used under Creative Commons — Attribution 2.0 Generic — CC BY 2.0