But the bigger picture is that the world is advancing.
That’s what an thought-provoking article in the (London) Spectator contends.
“Never has there been less hunger, less disease or more prosperity,” the Spectator says. “The West remains in the economic doldrums, but most developing countries are charging ahead, and people are being lifted out of poverty at the fastest rate ever recorded. The death toll inflicted by war and natural disasters is also mercifully low. We are living in a golden age.”
That’s right — there are fewer truly poor people in the world, fewer dying in wars, and life expectancies are rising dramatically.
“To listen to politicians is to be given the opposite impression — of a dangerous, cruel world where things are bad and getting worse,” the Spectator notes. “This, in a way, is the politicians’ job: to highlight problems and to try their best to offer solutions.”
But the solutions to the problems that matter rarely come from on high – from political offices. Instead, they’re slowly cobbled together as the work of regular people, trying to make things better.
“Take global poverty,” the Spectator explains. “In 1990, the U.N. announced Millennium Development Goals, the first of which was to halve the number of people in extreme poverty by 2015. It emerged this year that the target was met in 2008. Yet the achievement did not merit an official announcement, presumably because it was not achieved by any government scheme but by the pace of global capitalism. Buying cheap plastic toys made in China really is helping to make poverty history.”
As for war, it may seem like the number of conflicts — particularly in the Arab world — is on the rise. But that’s not the case. We’re covering them better, and we have 24-hour news sources now. Yet the number of deaths due to warfare is continuing to decline.
Finally, there’s disease. A big killer is malaria, but more effective treatments and preventative measures have reduced malaria deaths by 20 percent in recent years. Lung cancer is killing fewer people, as is breast cancer.
That doesn’t mean we don’t have challenges ahead. The Middle East could explode, the economy could take a tumble and we know that first-world problems like obesity are spreading.
But as the Spectator points out, in this bleak midwinter, “it’s worth remembering that, in spite of all our problems, the forces of peace, progress and prosperity are prevailing.”