A Future So Bright You’ll Need Sunglasses
FACT: The world is getting better and better, yet we think it is falling apart!
That statement above is a conclusion I often state when giving a presentation on behalf of the University of Central Florida in front of an audience of real estate practitioners and other business professionals and community leaders. What precedes it is an analysis of paraphrased headlines in from the media. These headlines, like much of the daily discussion in the news and homes, are negative. Yet, each could only be news worthy because of a long-term trend of extreme positive occurrences.
If you want to fully understand, see me speak! For a simple explanation, consider the case of airplane crashes. If a commercial airliner crashes (or god forbid goes missing – I’m looking at you CNN!), it is bound to command wall-to-wall coverage for at least that day if not the whole week’s news cycle and then some. Why? Is it because airplane crashes are a severe threat to the public’s well being? A they increasing at an alarming rate and something needs to be done NOW? By now, I’m sure you know the answer to both of those – NO! Air travel is far and way the safest means of travel and has been so for a very long time. How about that second point? I bet you had to think, here is the answer — Air travel is getting SAFER, and crashes happen wayyyy LESS FREQUENTLY than in prior decades. Why? Better technology, better practices and procedures, and the natural evolution of learning by all involved (pilots, air traffic controllers, airplane manufacturers, etc.).
Question, could the same be true (things getting better despite news coverage without context or sense of history) for other major “problems” in the world? Are you ready for it???
That is FACT, not opinion! Is this blog post the best place to lay out all the real details and make the case, probably not. I will point you to a few links that I suggest you avail yourself of before declaring me an idiot or just dismissing this line of thought all together (poll after poll reveals large majorities of Americans say we are on “the Wrong Track”):
- The book Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis (he will be added to my Mentors list). If you want a short summary read this blog post from the Huffington Post. Here are a few points (note, these are FACTS, not opinions). Note the proper date reference is 2012, but all of these trends I’m quite sure have continued as they are the result of a lot of long-term trends and transformations affecting Earth for a quite a long while:
- In the last 50 years – Poverty has DECLINED more than in the prior 500 years.
- In the last 50 years – Global population has DOUBLED, average per capita income adjusted for inflation has TRIPLED.
- In the 20th Century (that’s 1901 to 2000 for you home gamers) – Maternal mortality has DECLINED by 90%.
- In the 20th Century – Child mortality has DECLINED by 99%.
- Violence (as measured by homicide rates) around the world is LESS than 1% of what is was 500 years ago.
- The TED talk by Hans Rosling entitled The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen. This is a must watch as it is less than 20 minutes long! Here are some points from the TED talk:
- Life expectancy (and other measures of HEALTH) is HIGHER than ever and has been ever improving worldwide for the past 50 years and longer.
- Income Inequality has DECLINED (become more “equal”) globally over the last 50 years (ouch, for all those people who look at the “1%” statistics and think they are smart, in reality, they are just lousy at math and data analysis).
What is the conclusion? The World is HEALTHIER, SAFER, and WEALTHIER (for all) than it has ever been and it is only getting BETTER each year. Does this mean every individual is healthier, safer, and wealthier?? NO, of course not, there are still tragedies and harsh realities of life. I make no attempt to argue otherwise. BUT, if we are trying to assess the state of the world, we must use REAL statistics and FACTS, not narratives of Fox News, MSNBC, CNN or any political parties/candidates/commentators (shocker, they are usually wrong, on both sides no less).
Why make this point today, New Year’s Day 2016? Well, I want you to be optimistic about your personal future and the World’s future. 2016 is an election year in the United States and I can promise that both parties’ candidates will tell us how awful the country is and only they can fix it and it will only be worse if the other person wins. DO NOT let this influence your personal world view, or even worse, your personal assessment of your own life’s potentials. Take a long-term view, be optimistic, things actually DO work out and get better. Breakthroughs are possible, and actually quite common.
Tragic events are common as well, yet I have personally found that my most tragic events ultimately paved the way for my largest personal successes. The title of this blog post and the photo which I took over a year ago, A Future So Bright You’ll Need Sunglasses, was based on a statement made to be by a personal friend on a very bad day in my past (which was a slight derivation of a song title and funny 80’s music video by Timbuk3, if you need a laugh, watch it). Interestingly, some of the most amazing advancements in the world (like all the stuff I have alluded to above), all have origins in tragedy, conflict, and other horrors. Need an example? The modern INTERNET we use today was an invention by the MILITARY during the Cold War. Arguably, the Internet is one of the most all-transforming forces of the World’s economy, our lives, and lot’s of things to numerous to mention (UCF College of Business Alum Daniel Tosh’s hit show Tosh.O is one obvious example!).
Have a great 2016!
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