There is Good in the World

photo credit: greenplasticamy via photopin cc
photo credit: greenplasticamy via photopin cc

When I was a senior in college, I took a politics course, entitled “The Way the World Works.” On the first day of class, the professor had us divide up into groups and debate the following: are people innately good or are people innately bad? As quiet as I was, I found myself in quite the fierce battle between myself and the three gentlemen in my group, who were all convinced that humans were inherently evil. When the professor brought the class back together, I was tired and frustrated from arguing. Certainly someone else could pick up my crusade in the full class discussion so the introvert that I am could relax. But then, he asked us to raise our hands for which side we thought had won the debates. The entire class had been convinced that people are evil. Myself and the professor were the only people who disagreed.

The other night, over dinner, my mother said, “I think the world is the worst off it’s ever been.” In some ways, I can see how it’s easy to say that. 2014 was certainly a year for scary news: ebola, the abduction of schoolgirls from Nigeria, instability in Gaza and Crimea, racial unrest in the US, and quite an array of national and international terrorism. Yet, I still disagree. To explain, I will defer to Mr. Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was a favorite show when I was a young child):

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, ‘look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers- so many caring people in this world.”

In other words, bad things are going to happen, but the way I know that the world is an ok place because when bad things happen, more people step up to help than there are that caused the situation in the first place.

And if you’re still not convinced the world is an ok place, watch this commercial from a Thai life insurance company:


Suggested Reading: 26 Charts That Show the World is Getting Much, Much Better

The World is Not Falling Apart

Are These Dangerous Times, or Do They Just Feel That Way?



Our Time is Now

Flower Power
Flower Power

I used to say that I wished I had been born earlier, so that I could participate in all of the great social movements of the 1960s and 1970s: the civil rights movement, women’s rights movement, protests against the war in Vietnam, the environmental movement that gave us Earth Day . . . and it would’ve been fun to have been around for Woodstock, too. There’s something exciting about the idea of being a part of a powerful movement for change.

The more I see of current events, the more I realize that those dramatic opportunities for progress are not a thing of the past. We have just as many high stakes battles to fight now:

  • We need to battle the denial and apathy that are holding us back from taking action to fight global climate change.
  • Women are still not being taken seriously, as we are being prevented from being able to make some of our own healthcare decisions.
  • Children and teens are dying as a result of unnecessary gun violence almost every day.
  • Gay and lesbian people are not yet permitted to marry in every state, and transgender people are frequently the target of bullying and terrorist acts.
  • We need to question US military presence in many other countries, most particularly those in the Middle East, as well as the militarization of the police force within our borders.
  • The middle class is rapidly shrinking due to inflation and income inequality. Corporations need to be held accountable.
  • The members of our government need to learn how to put partisan politics aside, to compromise, and to treat each other like adults.
  • And, despite what anyone may say, the battle for civil rights is clearly not over.

These movements, too, can make the history books if we play our cards right. But, we need to put our smartphones down, get outside, and actually do something.

The time to act is now. 

Will we seize it?