Pessimists and scare-mongerers like to say that the world is getting worse and worse. The opposite is true. Television news and newspapers make us more aware of problems throughout the world but statistics paint a very different picture. As Harold Macmillan said back in 1957, “Most of our people have never had it so good”. Extreme poverty is reducing, diseases are being eliminated, fewer people are dying because of war and life expectancy is improving. If you want a fuller picture, read on.
In 1982, 52% of the world’s population lived on less than $1.25 (£0.80) per day. In 2012 the figure was 26% – a 50% reduction. There is every chance that similar progress can be made in the next 30 years, resulting in the elimination of extreme poverty by 2042. No doubt, there will still be poverty, but extreme poverty, measured in this way, need no longer exist.
- We used to say that 40,000 children died every day of preventable diseases. That figure is now more like 20,000 – totally unacceptable, but significantly better!
- Smallpox has been eliminated. Polio is almost extinct. Progress is being made on a vaccine for malaria and with the right drugs there is an increase in life expectancy for Aids sufferers.
- The scare of an world-wide Ebola epidemic was found to be without foundation.
- Infant mortality is reducing.
- Life expectancy is increasing.
War and Conflict
Contrary to common perception, the number of people dying through war and conflict has drastically reduced. Look at the graph above. In 2013, the chance of an individual’s death due to war was at an all-time low of 0.001%. We are living in the safest time of world history!
Racism, sexism and discrimination.
There’s less racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination in the world. Without being complacent, things are getting better. In my lifetime I have witnessed great changes in our attitudes to minorities. People are becoming more tolerant of other people’s differences, and less fearful in attitude.
In painting this picture, I do not want to colour with a rose-tinted hue.
- Poverty still inflicts its toll upon every country of the world.
- Many diseases are yet to be conquered.
- There is still a nuclear threat and life could be decimated if some awful ruler decided to use nuclear weapons.
- A solution to global warming needs to be found.
- The threat of terrorism still causes fear and paranoia.
But we should not let the challenges spoil our determination to make the world a better place. A well-known teacher called Jesus urged us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth, just as it done in heaven”. Let us take up these words, and strive to create a better world for our children, and grand-children.
History is moving in the right direction! We’ve never had it so good and the future is looking even better!