Updated: Apr 4, 2020
This week’s post is going to be significantly shorter than most as work has been crazy (hey, I don’t get paid to blog and podcast!) and I’m gearing up for another blog series. But before that series begins, next week’s post will be on the dreadful topic of suffering, death, and our growing inability to cope with it all; in case you were in any danger of having a weekend of blissful ignorance.
Since Thanksgiving is little more than a week behind us, I thought it would be fitting to give a brief post about the many MANY ways in which we have it better than we could probably imagine before launching into something quite so macabre. To that end, I wanted to share the good news about how we are doing better now than in the past. By “we” I mean just about everyone on the planet, and by “in the past” I mean all generations of humans who have come before us.
I don’t mean to imply we are without problems, or that some of those problems aren’t more troubling than what people have had to deal with in the past. I don’t mean to suggest we should self-congratulate to the point we lull ourselves into complacency and inaction. I simply mean that by a vast array of measurable metrics, our world is doing far better than it ever has been. While, curiously, a lot of people seem to be of the opinion things are far worse than they ever have been.
I could literally drown you out in stats and links, but I’ll share just a few points to ponder. For those interested, Jonah Goldberg devotes the appendix to his book Suicide of the West to covering the many ways in which our lives have improved. And Marian Tupy of the Cato Institute runs the website HumanProgress.com which is replete with stats and figures on the many ways things are getting better for us all. In fact, you can listen to Jonah and Marian on this very topic in a recent Remnant podcast.
Jim Geraghty’s recent article in National Review entitled The World Is Getting Better. It’s Just That No One Tells You About It. shares how breakthroughs in health could potentially cure everything from cat allergies to Ebola, Americans are more prosperous, the environment is improving, terrorism is diminishing, to the prospects for more global stability.
Again, none of this suggests we are without problems, even problems that could potentially fester into BIG problems. But much of charting a wise and prudential course into the future requires an accurate assessment of where we currently stand.
Sadly, that’s not the case. The Cato Institute recently shared that global poverty has halved over the past two decades (HALVED!!!) despite the fact most people living in advanced economies have a far bleaker sense. More than 90% of Americans believe extreme world poverty has remained the same or even increased (as evidenced by Cato's graph at the top of this post).
How truly remarkable that right at the moment humanity has never been more prosperous the world over, so many of us are of the belief we’ve never had it so bad. Gratitude may be out of style, but it’s never been more called for.