“Progress is a historical fact. The numbers show that over the past seven decades humans have become longer-lived, healthier, safer, richer, freer, fairer, happier, and smarter, not just in the West, but worldwide.” – Steven Pinker
In my last post, I tried to make the case for optimism as an antidote for fearing change. Even as I typed the words, I wondered how many of my readers would believe that things are getting progressively better with each passing year. As human beings, we often fall prey to catastrophic thinking. Rather than seeing situations for what they are, we make ourselves crazy by imagining all of the terrible ways that they could go wrong. Or, when we look to the future, we anticipate all sorts of terrible things that haven’t happened yet…and probably never will.
It doesn’t help that there is a huge over-focus on bad news these days. Most of the things that happen suddenly are bad, and in a world gripped by a 24-hour news cycle, journalists often feed our catastrophizing by reporting every sudden event in a sensationalized way as they compete with one another for viewers, readers, and followers. 2020 is an election year, and I don’t expect that to help. Our nation is more polarized that its ever been, and both of our political parties have a vested interest in keeping us that way as they compete with each other for votes.
As we begin the 2020s, I’d like to invite you to join me in realizing that the 2010s were probably the best decade in human history by just about any metric. Rather than ask you to take my word for it, I’d like to share a couple of great pieces with you that have come across my desk recently. Both do a great job of outlining the wonderful things that are happening around the world, and both make the case that we can expect even more in 2020.
It’s not always easy to hope for the best. As you begin your weekend, hopefully this bit of light reading will help.