Well, we dodged another apocalypse. That’s, like, the third in two years.
The 2012 Mayan prophecy turned out to be a non-prophecy at all. Probably because it was never meant to be one in the first place, but that didn’t stop dozens of people from making lots of money off of well-meaning, but naive folks who are always looking for the end-of-the-world, perhaps because they’re not crazy with how the world is currently.
And that’s what I want to talk about.
It’s easy to be drawn into media-saturated visions of a world going to hell in a handbasket.
Children being massacred. Rampant gun violence. An economy perpetually on the skids — and forever teetering over a fiscal cliff.
But, if you strip away the graphic scenes of carnage, reports of a gun-nutty populace running wild, and the bickering of political party ideologues, the true picture of a peaceful, prosperous — but flawed — world begins to statistically emerge.
Violence and crime are down.
Gun violence is down.
The truth is the world is more peaceful and less violent now than ever. You can read The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker if you don’t believe me.
“As technology accumulates and people in more parts of the planet become interdependent, the hatred between them tends to decrease, for the simple reason that you can’t kill someone and trade with him too.”
— Steven Pinker
While this truth can not bring back the 20 innocent lives shed in Newtown, Connecticut, it can perhaps reframe our perspective away from the one deeply damaged soul who took those lives and focus them on the wonderful human beings whose lives we shared for a brief time, the hundreds who were spared and the thousands who are among us and next to us today.
While it’s true the economy is struggling and partisan politics is playing pass-the-buck with the budget, we should still think how our economy survived a historic downturn in a relatively bloodless way. Downturns like this before have led to bloody revolutions, wars, and the establishment of autocratic governments.
And while pessimists want you to mire in the mud of past, I want you to think about some facts about the future.
Technology has united us and freed us from a lot of the restraints of previous economic shackles. You are viewing this on a device that probably has more computational potential than most corporations had 50 years ago and each year or so, that power increases exponentially.
On the horizon: medical breakthroughs and cures, longevity technology, quantum computers, 3-D printing, crowdsourcing, crowdventure capital, cheaper and faster electronics, virtual reality, augmented reality, new energy sources, and who knows what else is percolating in some lab somewhere.
All of these have the potential to revolutionize our economy.
Do we face obstacles and hurdles to create a better world? Yes.
But facing these challenges with hope is far more effective than being overwhelmed by doubt and hopelessness.
I wish you the best of holidays!