The Four Horsemen of the Modern Apocalypse

While you can come up with many ideas about what problems befall modern society, Ignorance, sin, arrogance, and pride, I feel some 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 it’s different, at least in the West, where such problems have been mostly overcome. Today’s problems are deeper felt, with existence and reflection 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 our capacity. Distractions pull us in so many directions 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 don’t do anything for us, perhaps even poisonous.

We have 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 feel 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 more prosperous, smarter, better looking, and more powerful to be seen as living life to the full.

So we chase dreams to feel 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 ashamed of our flaws and weaknesses. 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.

I have felt this, and it led me to embark on my self-improvement quest, a journey driven by my insecurity.

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

All this gives us a fear of 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 fuelling the fear of rejection. But the isolation leaves us feeling worthless because we are not truly connecting. People see the mask, not the real you.

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


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

Another problem we face now is the fallout from dismantling religion. It’s been a long time, but we turned towards science and consumerism without God. Both have proven to need to be 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. But despite all the searching, all the books, and 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 think we need direction. The problem is that there needs to be a 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 has meaning. You don’t feel you’re becoming stronger and can’t see anything changing for the better.

The key is a connection because relationships get you the other three.
Connections are how we find all the success and happiness we seek.

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

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