Matthew Yglesias wrote this piece here and it did not go over too well: The case against crisis-mongering. I mainly agree with him, that our world problems, dire as they are, aren’t as exceptional as we may think. Or as Dan G put it on twitter:
What Dan states is my worldview as well. There are still many bad things in the world, but there is progress and things are getting better. We have overcome problems in the past and we have the ability to fix things in the future. Plus the past was terrible in many ways and so much worse than now (and our times will look terrible to people in the future).
If you disagree with this, I strongly recommend two books:
- Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future
They make the case stronger than I can for how the world is getting better and how we should be optimistic despite our difficulties.
People will say: what about global warming? The pandemic? Nuclear weapons? All I can say is read Matt’s piece and then read those books. I think that will help alot.
(Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash )
It’s a new year. A new year after a very difficult one. It’s a good year to work on being optimistic. If you want to put in that work, start by reading this: How to Be More Optimistic – The New York Times. It will give you some tools to get you started on the path of seeing the fullness of your life.
Yes, there will be difficulties: there always are. The glass is never full. But being able to see things positively is a skill to work on. Today is a good day to start working on it.
(Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash)
Sure, the pandemic isn’t over. In some places, it’s far from over. But that’s no reason to be totally pessimistic. If you feel that way, I recommend you read this: Six reasons to be optimistic about Covid-19.
It’s not the end of the pandemic. It’s not even the beginning of the end. But it is at least the end of the beginning. Things are going to get better.
This fact is promising and the article in the Economist is worth reading (you don’t need a subscription to read it.)
Key quote for me:
Nonetheless, beyond America’s gloomy trend is a more optimistic story: that at a global level, suicide is down by 29% since 2000 (see article). As a result, 2.8m lives have been saved in that time—three times as many as have been killed in battle. There is no one reason. It is happening at different rates among different groups in different places. But the decline is particularly notable among three sets of people.
via Why suicide is falling around the world, and how to bring it down more – Staying alive.
I have my doubts after reading this: Steven Pinker’s book Enlightenment Now is a huge hit. Too bad it gets the Enlightenment wrong. – Vox.
I am a fan of the new wave of optimism being swept in by writers like Pinker. But misrepresenting the Enlightenment is a bad idea, and I am not sure why he did it. If you want to read it in the spirit of what out age needs now, then it is likely you should read it. If you want to learn about the Enlightenment, read the Vox piece and then go somewhere other than Enlightenment Now.
The folks at Vox have put together this: 26 charts and maps that show the world is getting much, much better.
One of my favourite statistics/charts is this one:
Even hardcore pessimists have a difficult time with that one. 🙂
The other 25 charts are worth checking out. They highlight significant areas where life is getting better. If you need a reason to be optimistic or to be more optimistic (or to be less pessimistic), you owe it to yourself to see the Vox post and then think about it.