You, my friend, live in 2016. Which means you are really f**king lucky.
We are living longer than ever before.
Gay marriage is legal in an unprecedented number of areas.
Never before have so many had so much access to information.
Never before have so many had so much freedom to speak, to Tweet, in public.
“If you had to choose a moment in time to be born, any time in human history, and you didn’t know ahead of time what nationality you were or what gender or what your economic status might be – you’d choose today.”
Obama might be covering up a whole host of failed reforms and slow economic growth with an inspiring irrelevance, but his words are nonetheless wise. Yes, we live in a world where a man walked into a gay nightclub and killed 49 people. But we also live in a world where thousands of people around the world immediately took to the streets to show support for the LGBT population. We live in a world where we ask why Omar Mateen did this, where we discover that he may have been gay, where we acknowledge that he was human and suffering – that this is not as simple as ‘evil’. That we can learn and grow, as we have done in the last thousands of years to get to where we are today.
It’s easy to read the headlines and feel disheartened. Some more football wankers are beating the shit out of each other in France. A pedophile has moved abroad to spread his methods of abuse to other pedophiles. The BBC News website can make for some pretty bleak reading.
But back to NOT being disheartened… Yes, terrible things happen, everywhere, every day, every second. But 2016, folks, is safer GLOBALLY than ever before. I’m not making this up. Steven Pinker, academic brainiac, estimates that in prehistoric times, around 500 people out of every 100,000 were killed by other humans every year. And today, Stevey tells us that figure has lowered to something like 6 to 8, worldwide. In the West, it’s even lower.
Don’t be drowned by the depressing doomsday headlines you see. There are so many ways to broadcast, share and publicize every terrible atrocity where before, doors were more easily and more often shut. The fact that we can wade through all this devastation today is a further sign of how far the world has come.
I’m not saying that the world is even close to perfect – it isn’t. But we’re safer, smarter, healthier, wealthier and more tolerant than we have ever been before.
So feel lucky. Feel happy. Feel optimistic. You have more reason to smile today than your ancestors would have believed possible.