Not Everything Is Terrible
We Should Refocus Our Prism Every So Often
“Once upon a time there was a wicked sprite, indeed he was the most mischievous of all sprites. One day he was in a very good humor, for he had made a mirror with the power of causing all that was good and beautiful when it was reflected therein, to look poor and mean; but that which was good-for-nothing and looked ugly was shown magnified and increased in ugliness. In this mirror the most beautiful landscapes looked like boiled spinach, and the best persons were turned into frights, or appeared to stand on their heads; their faces were so distorted that they were not to be recognised; and if anyone had a mole, you might be sure that it would be magnified and spread over both nose and mouth.” (From “The Snow Queen,” Hans Christian Andersen, 1845.)
If you are a political and/or news junkie, the outlook for the world can appear to be fairly dismal. Donald Trump could be the Republican nominee. Hillary Clinton, a felon and someone who used her position as Secretary of State for financial gain to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, will be the Democratic nominee and likely the President of the United States. The nation is nearly $20 trillion in debt. ISIS is running amok in Northern Iraq. Russia is invading the Ukraine. The Middle East continues to be in flames. The economy is still a mess. Kim and Kanye are still a thing. It looks bleak for the human race.
But step away from the flow of Twitter and the chattering of cable news for a minute to gain a broader perspective and we really do live in amazing times. For one, the world is wealthier than it has ever been. Poverty rate is as low as it has ever been. Just about everyone in the world has the entire collective knowledge of the world at their fingertips. We have eradicated a large of number of virulent and deadly diseases. More people live freely now under democracy than at any time since rise of nation states. The standard of living and life expectancy continue to trend upwards in the United States and around the world. We can instantly connect with family, friends, people around the world using any number of social media programs and websites. While world peace is elusive, we’ve done much better since the the collapse of the Soviet Union. Approximately 200m were killed by oppression, war, genocide in the 20th century. Those days are thankfully behind us.
These are just a few of the areas the nation and our world are objectively better off than at any time in human history. The average American today lives better than the monarchs of two or three centuries ago. We have our complaints. And there is real suffering in the world as well which should not be ignored. But it helps sometimes to recalibrate ourselves and realize we have it pretty good here in America. The constant complaint of the social media world and the focus on what is not going up to expectations does serve a purpose, but it is also not an accurate reflection of the world at large.