Christians should be known as champions of truth. Not just the truth of what is in God’s Word, but the truth about life and the issues we face in life. This includes truth regarding history. History provides a unique looking glass into the good and the bad of our ancestor’s triumphs and mistakes. The industrial revolution, in some circles, is looked at with a jaundiced eye. Some would even say that industrialization should never have happened. But what is the truth? Yes, there were opportunities for exploitation due to industrialization, yet also there was great good. Great good that was brought to all the people of society, perhaps the poorest most of all.
Prof. Allitt’s course on the Industrial Revolution is interesting as it is informative, pointing out both accomplishments and difficulties of the time period. The industrial revolution increased the standard of living. In a word, the poor became richer. There were more jobs available for lay people. Goods and services became affordable. When industrialization began to take its form, more farmers from the rural areas began to move into the city. When these families moved into the city, the men, women, and children all worked, providing ample income. Typically, Men would have jobs that required strength, women would have jobs that required more dexterity, and children would have jobs requiring small fingers and hands to manipulate machines. Finally, the working class poor were beginning to retain more wealth and slowly increased their livelihood. A slow process, but eventually, people were able to make a comfortable living.
The industrial revolution made it possible for higher quality food to be available for a cheaper price. Due to the ability people had to think and innovate, agriculture reform was possible. New techniques enabled farmers to produce better quality produce with a higher yield. This drove the food prices down allowing poor people to have access to healthier food with more options. When the poorer of society were able to eat healthier, this decreased the mortality rate and increased the average life expectancy.
Not only did industrialization help people survive with access to better food, it helped with the little things of life. Niceties of life came at a cheaper price. Products were becoming a higher quality and with easier access; making the prices drop due to supply and demand. This is turn slowly increased the standards of living. For once, paupers were living as good as a king.
The industrial revolution brought its own difficulties to be sure. Yet a Christian view demands seeing the good, as well as acknowledging the bad. The truth of industrialization is that there were some amazing benefits to society because of it. More jobs, better and cheaper food, and luxuries were made available to the average person. Those levels of increased standards of living are unprecedented. Despite the negativity of people who refuse to see any good, let us celebrate any good, where ever it may be. Let us be gracious as we study history.
For Further Discussion:
Varsity Faith provides an interesting article, Church Attendance, Industrial Revolution, & Privatization of Faith.