In discussing Tolstoy, A.N. Wilson says “[. . .] Tolstoy’s death still challenges us to ask the deepest political and personal questions. It is hard to think of any of the great public questions facing the world today that Tolstoy did not anticipate and address in some way, whether we speak of the environmental crisis, religious debate (creationist versus atheist) or the anti-war movement.”
I’m most intrigued that he or she (I don’t know the gender of “A”) doesn’t include “how we relate to technological progress or a rapidly changing world,” which might be the greatest question or suite of questions facing individuals in the West today. At 26 I’m relatively young, yet I’ve already seen how computers insinuated themselves in people’s lives, the rise and fall of IM, Facebook addiction, the way we can now fight wars with relatively few troops, the integration of GPS devices into lives, sexting scandals, and probably more—those were generated in a minute. All them of them relate to technology. And the rate of change, as many commentators have observed, appears to be increasing.
Now, Tolstoy may address these questions: I’ve started War and Peace twice but haven’t made it through. But that’s not the point: the point is that A.N. Wilson doesn’t list them as some of “deepest political and personal questions facing the world today” is itself notable, because I think they are the central questions many of us have, and the central questions that many of our other dilemmas spring from.