Reasons for optimism

To kick off 2015, I’ve compiled a list of 10 good facts you probably won’t hear on the news.

  1. Life expectancy is increasing in every single country in the world. In the past 30 years, life expectancy in countries like South Sudan and Angola has risen from 40 years to over 50 years, despite the HIV epidemic.
  2. Infant mortality is falling rapidly all around the world, and the fall is most rapid in the very poorest countries like Afghanistan, Somalia and Sierra Leone.
  3. In the past 20 years, the number of people living in extreme poverty (at or below $1.25 a day) has halved from 2 billion to 1 billion.
  4. Since 1990, the percentage of people in the developing world without access to clean water has fallen from 30% to 20%.
  5. The number of children who die from malaria each year has fallen more than 50% since 2000.
  6. In sub-Saharan Africa,the percentage of children in school has gone from the low 40s to over 75 percent since 1970.
  7. In the past 7 years, the number of primary school age girls not in education has fallen by 25% worldwide.
  8. The ozone layer is recovering after decades of decline.
  9. Since World War II, the number of deaths from war has been in general decline, despite the impression given by 24/7 news reporting.
  10. In the past 30 years, the number of countries that are considered by the UN to be fully democratic has nearly doubled, from 44 to 82.

Happy New Year to you all!

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25 responses to “Reasons for optimism

  1. “And to this world, to this scene of tormented and agonised beings, who only continue to exist by devouring each other, in which, therefore, every ravenous beast is the living grave of thousands of others, and its self-maintenance is a chain of painful deaths; and in which the capacity for feeling pain increases with knowledge, and therefore reaches its highest degree in man, a degree which is the higher the more intelligent the man is; to this world it has been sought to apply the system of optimism, and demonstrate to us that it is the best of all possible worlds. The absurdity is glaring.”

    ― Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation Vol 1

    • If a street has a sunny side and a shady side, a wise person will cross over the street and choose to walk in the sunshine.

    • darren pellichino

      We should remember that we are products of a savage world and remember that fact when we try to create a utopian civilization. I strongly doubt any species that is from a carnivorous lineage(partial or obligate) has this capacity. I doubt the deaths of the past have any bearing on the awareness of pain an individual can sense. Herbivores that eat the tops of grasses are just as aware of pain, and some of them don’t even kill the plants they eat. I think Humansism and the belief in our superiority of morals and thinking causes most of the unattainable ideals we preach. Society is comparable throughout the animal kingdom, as well as morals toward others. We are witness to many animals using some code of ethics when they choose to befriend weaker animals. We also can witness hippo’s creating a hippo wall to block off the crocs so they can’t eat the crossing herd animals. In ant societies they are seeing very similar comparable statistics to our own. It is now apparent that society causes an intellect increase, not that our superior intellect created society. The bottom line is that we are 100% animal and the walls that separate us are not there. Our savage world is built on killing and being killed, I doubt there is a utopian creature that is born of this world. A herbivore would likely be a better ruler than a carnivore, a plant would be better than both. We still have reasons to be optimistic as we adjust to our world around us we are learning to help others more. And the trend is also being noticed in the rest of the animal kingdom as well. Is it being forced apaun the world? Is it something we emanate to others around us? Whatever the cause, your willpower is fed by your optimism. Being optimistic is the key to overcoming the world around you.

      • Thanks for all your ideas, Darren. I’m very much of the opinion that utopias are impossible, and quite probably undesirable, dreams. It’s difficult to strive for perfection when we’re made out of dirt. But that doesn’t mean we have to settle for whatever nature throws at us.

        • darren pellichino

          Thanks, I did come off a little preachy though. And I veered off course quite a bit without getting to the point I was initially trying to make. I guess my English professors were right when they pointed out how my subject matter would wander aimlessly.
          I was trying to point out that the world we have built is steadily moving toward a better place. It seems that everything is on a constant move of refinement, as we are the sum of everything before us plus what is added by the next generation. The pessimism is usually a product of older generations comparing their mature and experienced mindset to the newest generation. They all seem to forget how they acted when they were young, or how they were treated by authority(parents and society).

  2. And on a more upbeat note:

  3. All good signs. Let’s hope the trend continues.

  4. Always good to hear good news. The news that more people have access to clean water is particularly satisfying. A few days ago I my mood turned so morose after skimming through Google news, that I took a chance and typed Good News into the search bar…and was happy to find some uplifting stories. Thanks for this post. It hits the spot.

    BTW, am not at the End of the End of Mr Y, and am less worried that I would otherwise be, knowing that you survived several readings of the book.

  5. Reblogged this on journeyofmythoughts and commented:
    And most importantly, I still am alive with enough money in my bank. 🙂 :p
    No, seriously. Look at the list and you would definitely like me for re blogging it. Amidst all the sadness that bad and depressing things cause us, there are always things that help us move forward in life. No matter what happens, life never stops and it has to go on, unless some doomsday has dawned upon us.
    We all have our own moments of personal happiness and things that give us a little more hope to take one step forward and not to give up on life. To me, they can be moments like, a smile from me after reading a nice post like the one I’m re blogging, a happy chat with family, a silly tease session with cousins, a little flirty conversation with a crush, anticipation of a sweet moment, a look of pride my dad gives me for certain things, the day I get my appraisal letter, one happy yet hearty meal and many such.
    And we all move towards the future with all these little joys in our hearts and we tend to leave our pain behind. So, that is what we are supposed to do with bigger issues like world population, hunger, infant mortality, life expectancy, literacy and others. We need to see the bright side of things that give us hope and then start working towards a better future while dealing with our demons. We need to take courage from the good that has happened and find some more good and peace. Just not let ourselves disappointed with the bad things that happened and see the brightness of the good. 🙂
    I hope I am not cheating. Reblogs are still considered posts right!. 🙂 I just couldn’t stop myself from re blogging as the post is really good.
    Have a great day.

    Love
    Sahasra

  6. Reblogged this on Momma Needs Coffee and commented:
    With all the negative in the world, and how easy it is to get sucked into it, I am glad to read something like this! What great reasons to be optimistic, I am glad someone thought of it and shared it.

  7. Thank you. I am thoroughly delighted to have some good news for a change.

  8. Reblogged this on Sable Aradia, Priestess & Witch and commented:
    It’s nice to have good news for a change!

  9. Thank you! I once thought that it would be nice to have a dedicated “Good News Channel” on TV reporting exclusively positive news. I wonder if that would get more viewers than all the regular “gloom and doom” channels that thrive on beheaded people, transport vehicle crashes, natural disasters, political scandals, wars, terror, school shootings, ebola, and what not. I do think that life has become safer and better since 1970s, but the news works hard to create an impression that the world is full of lunatics that are out there looking to kidnap, rape, and kill your child or something of that sort.

    • You are right. I have mostly opted out of regular news and get my information from selected internet channels instead. I miss some news stories completely, and don’t feel I’m missing anything important.

  10. I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade, but allow me to be a party-pooper for a minute:

    #1 also means that the Earth is getting overpopulated ever faster. It also means that percentage of old people is going up which means that social security funds all over the world will be depleted, people will have to retire later, and the younger population will carry a greater burden to support the aging one.

    #2 means that population in the poorest countries is the fastest to grow. Is that good or bad?

    #3 may simply mean that $1.25 has fallen in value. Perhaps, now you need to make $2.5 a day to be considered living in poverty.

    #5 is anyone worried about the extinction of a whole species of microorganisms? Where’s Greenpeace?

    #9 any war toll is “improvement” compared to WWII.

    🙂

    • #1 I don’t agree with the doom and gloom over-population assessment. I believe that we can sustain larger populations, and in any case, population is projected to level out as birth rates fall in line with rising incomes. Even if you accept the over-population hypothesis, it’s impossible to argue that allowing people to die of disease is a moral solution.
      #2 It’s good, because that’s where human suffering is greatest.
      #3 No, it’s a real increase.
      #5 I don’t think Malaria is endangered. In any case, I think you’re joking with this one.
      #9 The decline is post WWII.

  11. darren, I agree wholeheartedly.

  12. Pingback: Will technological unemployment impoverish us?

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