Why We Are Not On The Verge of World War 3

James Preston Reply 7:18 AM
Today is International Mandela Day. 96 years ago today, Nelson Ronihlanhla Mandela was born in a small village on the South Eastern coast of South Africa. No-one in that village knew how great a man this little boy would grow up to become.

What makes Nelson Mandela's life so extraordinary and inspirational, was not only the fact that he actually became the leader of the very nation where he was once an outlaw, but it was the way with which he dealt with his oppressors after taking that position of leadership. Not once did he use his power to exact any form of vengeance on any of the people involved in oppressing him and his people.

He modelled forgiveness on incomprehensible scales.

It intrigues me that those who chose the path of forgiveness over the path of aggression are the ones more greatly remembered by history. Jesus Christ. Mahatma Ghandi. Martin Luther King.
Something worth noting.

We are living in the greatest days in human history. At no other time has there been more access to wealth than this epoch in history as right now. Of course we have vast arrays of the world population living below the poverty line, but the percentage ratios are lower than ever before.

And yet, in the midst of man's greatest advancements, there is still great division.

It seems sadly ironic that on the day humanity remembers one of the greatest examples of forgiveness in human history, we wake up to news of 298 entirely innocent people killed in what is emerging to be a possible war attack intended for the Russian President.
Israel escalated their offensive on Palestine with a ground-invasion into Gaza.
And the White House was placed on lockdown after a suspicious package was found on its Northern fence.

People all over the world took to Social Media to question the state of the world. I understand that. These are big stories. None more so than Malaysian Flight MH17's devastating crash. But these three completely separate incidents are smudges on a remarkably rosey picture of the state of the world.

Of course I don't deny the countless challenges humanity still faces. But when we compare the state of our world with only a century ago, we would be pleasantly surprised.

So, in the midst of such tragic news, allow me to share with you some encouraging facts highlighting the better world within which we all live today...

  • We don't live in the fear of Smallpox, Polio, Tuberculosis or Leprosy like so many did for thousands of years even up to the mid 1900's.
  • For much of human history, the average life expectancy of a person was between 20 to 30 years, but by 2003 the average person worldwide lived to 67. Even in Africa that figure has increased to 46 years old.
  • Not only are people living longer today, but they are also healthier in their old age. People get sick much later in life...
  • People contract heart disease 9 years later than they did just a century ago.
  • Respiratory diseases have been delayed an average of 11 years and cancer 8 years.
  • Before industrialization, at least 1 in every 5 children died before reaching their 1st birthday. By 2003 infant mortality had dropped by nearly 75% to 1 in every 17 children.

  • From 1962 to 1987, smog levels in major cities fell by more than half.
  • In 1972 in the USA, only 36% of lakes were usable for swimming and fishing, by 1994 that number rose to 91%.
  • Another American figure; the number of water sources judged to be poor by the US Council on Environmental Quality fell from 30% in 1961 to less than 5% today.

  • The average person has never been better fed than they are today.
  • Between 1961 and 2002, the world's average daily food supply increased by 24% (38% in developing nations) per person.
  • Chronic undernourishment in developing nations declined from 37% to 17% in the same period.
  • Since 1950, greater agricultural productivity and international trade has caused inflation-adjusted prices of food commodities to decline by 75%.
  • By 2035 there will no poor countries left in the world.

  • When we think of oppression of women in countries like Afghanistan, we often forget that until August 26, 1960, women in America could not even vote!
  • After thousands of years of oppression and domination by men, women are finally winning back their God-given place in society.
  • Women are finding their way into the world's marketplaces in record numbers.
  • From 1654 to 1863, slavery was legal throughout most of the Western world. Today it is an abomination.
  • People of colour can vote in countries were only 60 years they couldn't sit on the same beach. America has advanced so much that a man of colour leads their government!
  • In 1900, no country had universal suffrage (the right for all its adult citizens to vote), today only 12.4% percent of the world's population have limited suffrage.
  • Today, 44.1% of the world's population lives in nations deemed "free" by Freedom House and another 18.6% live in nations deemed "partly free".
  • 200 years ago, the age of sexual consent in much of even the Western World was 10 years old!
  • Up until even a few decades ago, human sacrifices were accepted in many cultures, most notably in South American culture up till a few hundred years ago. Today it is unheard of.

  • What about the invention of the atomic bomb? It may seem like with such an invention, the world is more dangerous than it's ever been before. Whereas in actual fact, violent dictators have been able to be kept in check. There are less violent dictatorships than ever before in human history.
  • Even in 1939, when one of the most infamous dictators of all time (Hitler) took the step to conquer the world, kickstarting World War II. Nations came together, working with each other, doing everything possible, to stop such a tyrant and ensure human rights were upheld. In 1946, in the bloody war's aftermath, the United Nations was founded to ensure international security and the protection of human rights. 

There are many other areas I could go into that highlight the remarkable fact that the world is far better off than it ever has been in history except since, maybe, before mankind entered the fray. But the fact is, mankind is enlightened like never before and our advancement means a better world for all. Poverty, pollution, violence, disease, are all being tackled at rates never before experienced.

The unfortunate reality is that us humans crave bad news. This in itself is intriguing, because deep in our souls we want to help others and make the world a better place. This is a strange juxtaposition. But we cannot deny that bad news is a cash cow for the outlets that give it to us.

With our inclination for bad news, we must be careful not to paint the whole world with this outlook, doing so just allows fear and anxiety to get the better of us.

Hope is the lifeblood of those who change the world. We need it to get on with the job of making this world a better place. Let's not allow our hope to be snuffed out by minor blips in the system.


I'd love to hear your perspective on the state of the world. Let me know your thoughts on Twitter:

Most of the facts in this article come directly from the following 2 books:
- Heavy Rain - Kris Vallotton (specifically pages 222 to 229)
- It's Getting Better All the Time: 100 Greatest Trends of the Last 100 Years - Stephen Moore and Julian L. Simon

I also encourage you to read Bill and Melinda Gates' remarkable annual letter from January 2014 "3 Myths That Block Progress For The Poor".

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