How do you view the world and your interactions with it? Most people think this is a pretty bad world and few think it is getting better. It really isn’t a surprise when we are ritually bombarded with negative press:
- the latest terrorist attack,
- murders of policemen,
- regular home invasions and break-ins,
- failing education and health systems,
- yet another sports star’s fall from grace.
Some latest statistics would provide further despondency at our bleak world. After all:
- more than one billion people live in extreme poverty, making less than $2 per day.
- 50,000 children died in Syria as a result of the civil war, and
- 37% of modern nations are dictatorships or worse.
But before you become overwhelmed by awfulness, pause for a moment to consider the good stuff.
Johan Norberg’s (2016) Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future is an invitation for people to be joyfully positive about the world we live in. Norberg reviews the state of all the major externalities that we care most about and how they have changed over time.
Here are some:
Of the 178 countries in the environmental performance index, 172 showed improvement in the last decade; only six countries became worse.
In 1900 21% of the people in the world could read and write. In 2015, 86%. Women have finally almost caught up with men: in 1970, the literacy ratio of women: men worldwide was 59%, now it is 94%.
In 1800, 60% of countries allowed slavery, now none do. In 1990, 46% were democracies, now 63% of the nations of the world are.
In 1950, 44% of nations officially discriminated against ethnic groups, by 2003, only 25%. In 1900, women could vote only in New Zealand, now only two countries prohibit women from voting: Saudi Arabia and the Vatican.
They are plenty of reasons to be positive and optimistic about the future and the world in which we live. Students at Mueller are being reminded constantly of seeing their glasses-half-full. We aim to remind our students of how blessed they are here; with resources, caring teachers, safe environment, access, quality education, valued members of a community.
How’s your glass….half empty or half full?