After surfing the net for the happiest possible image, we’ve settled on this illustration from Soni Speight. We have some good news to share today, and it has nothing to do with music. Share this article with everyone you know!
But first, Happy World Environmental Day! It’s a great day to plant a tree, or simply to take a walk outside. In the words of Max Ehrmann, “it’s still a beautiful world. Strive to be happy.”
In this spirit, we offer these facts. (Remember facts? They still exist!) And if you’d like to double-check these facts, simply Google the research. Ready for some good news that really can change your life? Here it is.
Harvard’s Steven Pinker does a great job summing up what we really need to know in his essay, Human Progress Quantified, as reprinted in John Brockman’s new anthology, Know This:
People are living longer and healthier lives, not just in the developed world but globally. Vastly more children are going to school and learning to read. Extreme poverty has fallen worldwide from 85 to 10 percent. Despite local setbacks, the world is more democratic than ever. Women are better educated, and in more positions of power. Hate crimes have decreased.
You may be saying, “What? This doesn’t sound like the news!” It’s probably not the news you’ve read ~ it’s the real news. Yes, we have horrible acts of violence ~ but the world has grown progressively less violent in recent years, with fewer people dying in acts of terrorism and war. And yes, there are threats to our way of life, our environment, and so on ~ but these are all counterbalanced by the acts of many, many good people. Don’t give up. And don’t believe everything you read at face value. We have grown more afraid at the exact same time as we have become safer.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who have been discouraged by recent events in the world. There is still reason to hope, to love, to believe, to go on. I am not writing these words as a Pollyanna ~ nor are they platitudes. I believe that it is realistic to be positive, although it takes some work. To get there, we may need to tune out the alarmism and the fear mongering, and to concentrate on what is good and true and right ~ for example, the benefits of friendship, nature and the arts. While we can’t stop bad things from happening, we can’t stop good things from happening either. There are far more good things than bad, but we can focus on either one, and our thoughts will determine our mood.
Every work of creativity, every gesture of kindness, and every act of volunteerism makes a statement: this is our beautiful world, and we are a part of its beauty. Although we may think we are powerless, the opposite is true. These are our words of encouragement: despite what you may have read elsewhere, we are still headed in the right direction.
Thanks for this comforting post. However, I want to criticize the idea that we can’t stop good things from happening. We can. These good things are our own doing. It took enormous amounts of work from dedicated people to improve the world. Our continued progress is contingent on our actions, and we have to unite to support and promote things that are good.
Well said, thanks for the comment! We can of course stop some good things from happening if we ourselves hold back ~ but there will always be some goodness in the world, and our challenge is to notice it, hold onto it and do our best to contribute to it. I came to this conclusion after reading an essay by Verlyn Klinkenborg, who wrote that his solace after a terrorist attack was to go down to the barn and see the beauty and calm in his horses’ eyes ~ those who knew nothing of our predicament but were enjoying the company and the fresh hay.