So now I WANT you to take a break from Reality.
Turn off your TV and your Mind and follow me to a new Vista.
Forget about debates between highly incompetent people that want your vote and go on a flight of fancy with me… or at least on a flight to New York and to the United Nation building on the riverside between East 42nd and 48th streets.
Here is where 193 member states converge to talk diplomacy, economic, civil action, and human goals, but most importantly you get here with me to think globally…
So let’s it back, have a cool drink, and intimately contemplate “what is the best this world has to offer.”
Of course after this rare moment of distance from the mundane and contemptible — we can all return to the more urgent screaming bloody needs worldwide, from the war in Syria and the drowning children refugees, to the ravages of climate change, and to the sinking small island countries of the rising Pacific ocean.
But first, let’s pause for a second to accept, acknowledge, and savour, our communal Victories for Human Progress.
Let’s cherish this moment, and let’s congratulate ourselves because the greatest gains in human well-being in the history of our species — just happened.
And of course, I am not trying to lead you to inaction, or to inspire complacency, but rather to spur our efforts to accelerate what may be the most important trend in the world today. The trend of our virtuous cycle of Human Existence, Human Progress, and Human Achievement.
Admittedly now the hyperbole we hear and see in the news, is that the world is a bloody mess, with billions of people locked in inescapable cycles of war, famine, and poverty, with more children than ever perishing from hunger, disease, and violence, and with all of us living inside an increasing vortex of hate, suffering, and intolerance, stemming from Islamic terrorism, civil wars, and human conflicts, appearing larger than Life itself…
And that sound about right, because that’s about the only thing Americans can fully agree upon, since we are clearly and heavily polarised about everything else. Because several polls have found that about 9 out of 10 Americans believe that global suffering, poverty, and alienation have worsened, or stayed the same over the last 20 years or so.
However, the one point Americans fully agree on, is clearly wrong, if statistics and the United Nations data can be relied upon and can be believed.
The thing is that overall things around the World, and even back here at Home, have been greatly improving, and getting better at an advancing rate for most all Humans. Indeed things have been getting better at an accelerated rate and even more so than most of us had predicted possible when the Millennial Development Goals first came into existence…
Yes, you heard that right: Thing are getting better for almost all human beings across the planet we call Home. And they have been getting better at a rising clip…
So on this beautiful and balanced Earth, this year of the Lord 2016, we have had some really Good News. Reliably Good News that we can share, as world leaders gather once more for the United Nations General Assembly this week.
Because it is here that the reckoning is tough, and efforts are made to surprise us with the bad news so that we can put our act together and solve big problems — yet all the evidence suggests that we are at a positive time point for all the ages.
Take as an example the number of people living in extreme poverty ($1.90 per person per day) that has tumbled by half in two decades, and the number of small children dying has dropped by a similar proportion — that’s six million lives a year saved by vaccines, breast-feeding promotion, pneumonia medicine and diarrhea treatments!
Historians may conclude that the most important thing going on in the world in the early 21st century was a stunning decline in human suffering.
So here are a few data points: 1) As recently as 1980, 44 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty, according to the World Bank. Now the share is believed to be less than 10 percent and falling. “This is the best story in the world today,” says Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank. 2) For the entire history of the human species until the 1960s, a majority of adults were illiterate. Now 85 percent of adults worldwide are literate and the share is rising. 3) Although inequality has risen in America, the global trend is more encouraging: Internationally, inequality is on the decline mainly because of rapid gains by the poor in places like China and India.
Still the U.N. aims to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, and experts believe it is possible to get quite close. In short, on our watch, we have a decent chance of virtually wiping out ills that have plagued humanity for thousands of generations, from illiteracy to the most devastating kind of hand-to-mouth poverty.
Yet the public thinks the opposite, that poverty is getting worse. A recent poll, suggests that only 1% percent of Americans surveyed realized that global extreme poverty had fallen by half over the last 20 years.
I wonder if those of us focused deeply in our own worlds, don’t err by focusing so much on the index of human misery, human suffering, and human death, that we carry the misperception that everything is always getting worse and worse.
We all see the bad news, yet it is incumbent to hear the good news for a change because it’s also important to acknowledge the great story of the rising global progress. We need to hare this good news because the public may perceive poverty as hopeless and see no point in carrying on the fight against it — just when we’re making the most rapid gains ever recorded in lifting people out of it.
Let’s keep working against the ravages of Hate and Suffering and we’ll all be better for it.
We have saved many lives together and especially those of the young children, but there is far too much more that we need to be doing.
Let’s get to it without slackening our resolve nor our labors, even a little bit. Let’s keep this momentum going, and we’ll all look back at this singular & historical moment, as a time of triumph for the resilience of the indomitable Human Spirit.
That’s OUR SPIRIT.
Again, from a Malthusian point of view — cynics can scoff all they like, but when they say that if more children’s lives are saved, they will just grow up to have more babies and cause new famines and cycles of poverty — we have a great et of data to throw back at them.
Because that is imply not so.
As a matter of fact, when parents are confident and educated that their children will survive, they choose to have fewer of them.
As girls are educated and contraception becomes available, birthrates tumble for all the young mothers in the underdeveloped world — just as they did in the Western industrialised world. Look at Indian women now who average just 2.4 births per couple, and the Indonesian women with 2.5 per family, or the Mexican women who just have 2.2 offsprings, and the Chinese ones with just less than 1…
So please do not fret about Malthus and his negative ideas anymore, because he is too much of the old school to be believed anymore, today.
Let’s just keep on focusing on solving the most intractable and wicked problems out there that we have been optimising for all of our many lives, lived collectively and individually, as a Community of this special Species called Human Beings.
Do this, and help us do more to advance people’s health because our distant ancestor “Homo Sapiens” could never be prouder…