Today at breakfast (we're in Fiji) we sat next to two Australian college students. We had a long conversation about lots of things. Although they now live in Sydney, one was born in South Africa and the other to Russian parents who emigrated to Australia about 20 years ago.
The South African commented that it seems like the world is collapsing with all the problems of the war in Ukraine, the disintegration of South Africa, covid, climate change, etc.
I told her that the world is much better than when I was her age. We had Vietnam, the Cold War, apartheid, the 1973 war in Israel, the oil embargo, etc. The Russian agreed that things had improved substantially in Russia (until the Ukraine war). She's been to Russia many times to visit family, etc. She's studying communications and psychology and several times pointed out how what we think is driven by what we're told.
Her grandmother also emigrated to Australia but she doesn't speak English well, so they set her up to watch Russian TV over the Internet. Now she strongly favors Putin and the war in Ukraine as a result of decades of Russian propaganda. The student and her parents hate Putin and the war. Her father's friends in Russia are all having to fight in the war.
They said around 90% of the students at their university are Chinese, because Chinese pay full tuition and basically finance the Australian universities. The Russian had to do a presentation to her classmates, none of whom spoke English well enough to understand her. During covid, the universities lowered admission standards because the Chinese couldn't come, etc.
Hopefully they left with more optimism for the future. College students (and students at all levels, apparently) are being fed an unending stream of doomsday fears (climate change), woke ideology, and despair for the future.
This all reminds me of conversations I've had with young missionaries. Few if any of them believe Joseph Smith used a seer stone in a hat to produce the Book of Mormon, despite the efforts of LDS intellectuals and apologists to mainstream SITH. Most of them don't even realize that the whole Mesoamerican setting is based on the "Two Cumorahs" theory, which they think is ridiculous.
Hopefully at some point the Church History Department will stop misleading the Latter-day Saints for their ideological purposes. All Latter-day Saints would benefit by learning what Joseph and Oliver actually taught, along with the evidence that corroborates and supports their teachings.
Time will tell...