Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 08/26/2019
Did you know that over the last 20 years the proportion of world population living in extreme poverty has been halved? Or that life expectancy in the entire world is 70? That there are 2 billion children (age 0-15) in the world today and in the year 2100 that number will be the same? Or of all the world’s 1-year-old children, 80 percent have vaccinated against some disease? Finally, did you know that in 1996 giant pandas, tigers, and black rhinos were all on the endangered lists, and none is today?
These are empirical data in the wonderful book Factfulness by the late Hans Rosling of Sweden. He points out that we tend to be overly negative, see things in a binary fashion (yes or no, up or down, black or white), and tend to group vast numbers of people with labels. All of this is encouraged by the media which are paid to tell us about exceptions—primarily negative exceptions. “Emirate flight 1077 arrived on time in Heathrow” is not exactly “news.”
We have problems, some of which seem insoluble at times. There are legitimate social and societal ills. But the sky isn’t falling. And when we think the sky IS falling and duck for cover, we’re unable to walk around trying to solve the legitimate problems while hiding from a mythical one.
The world isn’t perfect, but it is getting better. I was born just after World War II ended—I’m among the senior of the “baby boomers”—and I’m impressed that we’ve succeeded thus far in not blowing each other up. We may just basically really be salvific. Life is good, it’s what we make of it, not what we allow it to make of us.
Life is good when we think it’s good. Life is bad when we don’t think. — Douglas Horton