What's Going Right
I burned up some of those "residual airline miles" several months ago by trading them in for a few unneeded and normally unheeded magazine subscriptions, offered via snail mail. "Your Frequent Flyer Miles Are About To Expire!" the accompanying letter said, as it always does, so I bit and bought. But I confess most of the ensuing issues arriving in the mailboxfrom all 16 subscriptions (okay, not 16--but somewhere between one and ten, and it wasn't just one) have ended up in a pile headed for recycling after only a cursory look at each at best. But one recent Time Magazine cover caught my eye. It featured a young boy with a sparkling smile under the words "The Optimists." Wait. "The Optimists?" Time Magazine?
Turns out the person overseeing this particular issue was a "guest editor" named Bill Gates. That caught my other eye. Turns out he was the first guest editor in the publication's 94-year history.
I shifted from a cursory look to a good ol' perusing of the issue--the kind of thing I used to do with a magazine before falling into the click-bait trap mobile phone news apps provide. ("What? Oprah didn't recognize Leonardo DiCaprio at a recent get together??" Shame on me. Why did I even care to look?) Gates took his assignment as an opportunity to highlight some of the advancements comprising the steady and ongoing improvement of the human condition--news I think we could all stand to hear about more often but which is sorely lacking in coverage by the media. And while acknowledging the need not to downplay the "tragedy and injustice" that justifiably angers us, he stressed the importance of keeping an eye on the positive as well, as a means to exhort us to find ways to serve and contribute to the continuing benefit of the world. Here a few such advancements he cited where the facts speak for themselves:
-"Since 1990, the number of children in the world who die before their fifth birthday...has been cut in half. That means 122 million have been saved in less than a quarter century."
-"In 1990, more than a third of the global population lived in extreme poverty; today, only about a tenth do."
-"A century ago, it was legal to be gay in about 20 countries; today, it's legal in over 100 countries."
-"In the U.S., you are far less likely to die on the job or in a car than your grandparents were."
Hope? Hope, indeed.
Although most of the other contributors (some of Gates' pals, writing at his request) by and large unfortunately failed to do so, Gates succeeds in sparing the reader any sort of political commentary within most of his own comments, particuarly in his "From The Editor" essay. Click here to read his entire one-page missive. It was nice to read about good things going on. And though important to discuss, during my time absorbing much of what Gates presented, I was content to take a break from the "great debates" regarding the reasons behind (and not behind) the improvements highlighted in the issue and simply be...encouraged. Maybe you will be, too.
Check back regularly for more entries regarding "what's going right" in the world. It's my goal to bring to light inspiring stories of hope and love from realms of science, nature, the arts, business, technology, spirituality, community, and positive human interaction in general. In the process, I hope they will inspire us to hope, to help, and to heal others, and in doing so engender hope, help and healing in ourselves as well.
- Bruce Wermuth, February 2018