Mark has a post that addresses historical cycles called Ancient Rome and Globalization. Does the geopolitical success of liberal government undermine itself ('what the Old Marxists might have called the "contradiction of capitalism')?
For my part, I'm concerned that our national, often-head-down pursuit of the American Dream (prosperity for me and greater prosperity for my children) ultimately erodes underpinnings of the American Way.
For example, our politicians seem fairly bankrupt right now. Their goal appears to be more power and money for themselves. There best path thereto is keeping their constituents happy, no matter what's best for the country or the world. Is the system messed up, thus producing bad results? In democracy (loosely defined) you get the government you deserve. We have to put responsibility for the results ultimately on the citizens.
Example 2: Isn't our public education system pretty bad? Ultimate results have to rest with the parents. Public schools are a great resource to be utilized by parents to get their children educated. If parents don't care and engage and follow along, your results will be pretty bad. But are parents more concerned about working two jobs and getting their own satisfaction and seeking prosperity than about the education and character development of their children?
Example 3: The market. Free markets are the worst economic system (except for every other one). Talk about lowest common denominator. You drive up to Charlotte and get nailed by ads for cosmetic surgery. We waste our money on a lot of useless crap, right?
Aren't we tempted to conclude that the masses are asses?
This is usually the time I need to take a break from my frustrated idealism (which naturally produces cynicism). The world is broken. People are broken. Yes, my faith tells me that. Sometimes I get too focused on being frustrated about things not being the way they should be. That's not helping anyone.
Plus, there's plenty of common grace in the world. God sends his rain on the just and the unjust. That's a good thing. There are plenty of things to be grateful for, in the context of a world that shouldn't surprise us by being very screwed up.
Beyond common grace, God is specifically at work in the world, even in my life. I need to remember that. I'm not going to find it in the news very often. That's not what 'the news' is for. But I'll be more even-keeled if I stop to take stock of it. If I start with that perspective before I dive into the news.
It's ok to keep up with current events. It's even important. But don't get sucked into it. It's not the whole game. It doesn't afford much happiness (apart from the small satisfaction of being informed, and that one doesn't keep ya very warm at night). Doesn't mean I can't do my side job (which content is consumed with current events) and enjoy it. In fact, I might enjoy it more with a little detachment. And unexpected good things do happen. The Soviet Union eventually collapsed. We did buy off Germany and Japan with development in the second half of the 20th century.
Too smart is dumb. Keep an eye out for what God might be doing. Be grateful. Serve and enjoy your family. That's a fair-sized chunk of the ballgame right there.