Because the news trades in fear, anger, sympathy and titillation you have been innocently lead to believe that the world is much, much worse than it really is. The news is one hour long: a couple minutes for the intro intro, a few minutes of flashy graphics interspersed, a few minutes for what’s going on in your city, a few for your country and then huge chunks for what is essentially entertainment: weather and sports. Over a quarter of it is advertising, which means you see almost nothing about what’s actually going on around you. That’s hardly enough time to encapsulate even a tiny fraction of humanity’s achievements each day.
Every single day a huge number of friendships get made, degrees are earned, citizenship is obtained, freedoms are gained, and things are learned. Much joy is felt and there are many very good reasons to be optimistic. Everyone imagines everything growing worse and there’s many signs that won’t happen the way people are imagining.
We invented terrible bombs in the 40’s and put treaties on them and started dismantling them within 50 years. Pollution was a byproduct of the work-saving era of the Industrial Revolution. The point was to save people from backbreaking work, not to create pollution. So that was generally our first big worldwide issue but there was no internet so the world couldn’t get organised as quick as it can now. By the time we hit acid rain we got on it and fixed it pretty quickly. We tackled the ozone layer, CFC’s and now we’re on carbon. We’re doing pretty good. We actually fix things faster than we break them, not to mention that disease treatments make important advances every day.
The news makes its money selling fear and uncertainty, not confidence. What’s wrong with our world isn’t that big stuff because that’s clearly going better than the news will ever give it credit for. What’s wrong with our world is that we talk to ourselves and others about what we don’t like but we don’t actually do the things we claim we like.
Politeness isn’t something for chumps or losers. Maybe a gangster would say that but gangsters live to about 25 so…. Politeness is simply the acknowledgement of the presence and value of another human being. It’s odd that politeness ever got perverted into being something we shouldn’t prioritise for our own sake. We win in that exchange.
How many calories or milliseconds does it take to hold a door for someone? And yet how nice is it when someone takes the time to hold it for you? It’s not like you needed to use a lot of calories on the door either, but this way you both acknowledged each other in a society whose primary sickness is its self-centred focus. Despite the fact that the connections consistently feel good you often choose to do things that then prevent you from making more of them.
You do a lot of very active things to cut yourself off from other humans. Have you looked at those things to see if you want to keep all of them? Yes, you need down time and alone time, but most people are starved for more contact. Stop making that a problem of the world’s and start creating your own personal solutions by actually taking opportunities to make just the simplest of connections; smiling as you walk by on the street, saying good morning to co-workers, buying the person behind you a coffee, holding a door.
The world does not get better because we’re smart and know what other people should do. The world and our own lives get better because we’re just plain nicer, more patient, more tolerant and more loving than we’ve ever been.
peace and love. s
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.