LET THERE BE LIGHT
It’s easy to take for granted the simple creature comforts when we have deadlines, kids, traffic, etc. But did you know that each day, nearly 300,000 people gain electricity for the first time? Another 305,000 get clean water. We are in a transitional state where huge populations are moving into the middle class, and with it comes advances in literacy, infrastructure, and amenities that improve quality of life, health, and infant mortality! For example, in 1960 19% of children died before the age of five and that number is now closer to 4%.[ii]
MOVING ON UP
In the last 70 years, the world population has made huge steps out of poverty. Currently, fewer than 10% of the world is in extreme poverty whereas that number was 44% only 35 years ago.[iii] As a result of widespread access to vaccines, 85% of all one-year-olds in the world, have been vaccinated. Improved access to medicine has vastly improved the quality of life for people all over. Global life expectancy worldwide has jumped from 48 in 1950 to 71.4 years today.[iv]
Huge leaps in economic world growth have improved the lives of many people. Global GDP has expanded seven-fold between 1950-2001 with per capita income tripling in that time.[v] For the majority of human history, most people were deeply impoverished. With half the world’s population now above the middle class, we have reached a tipping point in the overall quality of life. Obviously, the definition of the middle class varies widely across countries and cultures, but but over 50% of the world has enough income to cover the basic fixed expenses and non-discretionary needs, have a little extra for consumer goods, and are able to weather a rough patch like illness or unemployment. A larger middle-class result in a greater need for goods. In fact, private household consumption totals about half the global economy. The middle class is also the fastest growing world population, adding another 4 billion people by 2020 alone.[vi]
QUALITY OF LIFE AND INCREASED FREEDOM
As much as the news would have you believe otherwise, the world has also become a kinder and safer place. Governments prioritizing global health have made a huge impact. Making vaccines, basic medicine, and contraception readily available helps to move people out of poverty and improve the quality and longevity of life. Advancements in medicine and access to it have made huge dents in the number of deaths from Malaria and AIDS. There have been significant drops in homicide and overall crime.[vii] More people have access to democratic rule and are able to speak their minds, voice their opinion and cast their vote for the candidate or party they believe is going to represent them best.
In the last 25 years alone, the number of people relying on unsafe sanitation has dropped from 57% to 33%.[viii] Millions of people have had their quality of life vastly improved by something as simple as clean water and proper toilet sanitation. Roads, electricity, water, and access the internet, open myriad possibilities to populations who have not had access to such normal infrastructure that we experience in our lives every day.
THE BIG PICTURE
Our daily news headlines make it difficult to find these positive changes constantly occurring in our world. There will always be struggle and hardship, but major advancements and progress are happening every day. Unemployment is at record lows. In one county in Wisconsin, the unemployment rate hovers around 2%. A local factory has taken to hiring white collar prison inmates earning full wages as they serve their sentences, helping them to assimilate back into society after their sentence is over. Other companies are lowering their standard for work experience on job-postings, thus expanding their search for competent employees. [ix] Our world is changing. And despite the negative headlines, it is changing for the better. It isn’t always easy to find the good in the world, but with a little practice, you may be able to find it in the simple acts of turning on your lights or having a glass of water and knowing that 300,000 new people that day are able to do the same for the first time in their lives…