It’s getting better all the time
It’s easy to think things are going to hell in a handbag in this world of ours. I mean, we’ve got the temperatures and the water levels rising, and we’ve got gun owners all over the country shooting folks (at least, as long as your country is the US), and we’ve got terrorists threatening the Olympics, and we’ve got the income gap that never seems to go away, and we’ve got gender gaps and adhere too staunchly to stereotypes, and we’ve got the big-bad Western world lording ourselves over the rest of the world, and pretty much ignoring the death and disease and all other sorts of destruction that is still so rampant in the third world.
All of those are true–or at least true enough for conversation’s sake.
And, yet …
Among the links I received from a compatriot at my previous place of business included a bit written by the one-and-only Bill Gates* that suggests that things are not quite so bad. In fact, Mr. Gates suggests that things are actually … at least in the big picture … getting better for folks we don’t often think of as having their lives get better.
* I cannot think about Bill Gates without reminding myself of how many folks, me specifically included, considered him the devil incarnate for what he and his company did to choke certain innovations that were happening in the late 80s and 90s. The Gates of today is a growth from the Gates of yesterday, which, for me creates a strange dissonant dichotomy that is hard to really comprehend. But I digress…
His piece reminds me of the very popular Hans Rosling TED talk that shows exactly what is happening to the world, and argues strongly that we (since I’m in the US, I use “we” to mean the self-described “developed countries”) are actually enjoying improved existences, also. If you haven’t seen it, you should. If you’ve seen it, it’s worth a reminder.
Here it is:
Among the things I like about Rosling’s information is that while he’s focusing on the disappearing gaps between the developed countries and third world (which his data shows was very much true in the 1960s), he’s also showing how things are actually getting better in the developed countries over this time too–it’s just that when you’re already in pretty good space, the progress is much harder to feel.
So, yeah, we got problems. And, yeah, things need to keep getting better. But, you know, it really doesn’t suck to be living in these developed worlds these days. I mean, relatively speaking.