So 2017 has arrived. Are you, like me, already fed up with people complaining about how terrible 2016 was? The whingeathon on Facebook of folk moaning about Trump/Brexit and the deaths of celebrities who they’d never met and were never likely to? As if no famous people had ever died prior to last year?!?! People die and are born every day. It’s our human experience.
Yes there were some major and tragic crises last year - such as the appalling slaughter in Syria and the persecution of Christians and other religious denominations across the world but let’s get a sense of perspective however. In 1918, the worldwide flu epidemic wiped out 5% of the entire human population!
The fact is, there has never been a better time in human history to be alive - mankind has never been healthier, more prosperous, better educated and longer lived. Advances in communications, science, medicine and technology are closing the gap between skills, education and the life chances of people across the globe - and trade will continue that process in the post Brexit period too. Whilst globalisation is imperfect and can leave many frustrated and resentful, it nevertheless has driven unprecedented wealth over the last 100 years, particularly for the poorest.
The facts speak for themselves: The number of people in absolute poverty across the world has plummeted since 1980, life expectancy in Africa has increased by 9 years since 2000 and is now 74 for women across the planet, up from 60 in 1970. Malaria deaths have dropped by 60% since the millennium and AIDs deaths are down by 45% since 2005. Child mortality rates are tumbling, global literacy is now over 80% compared to just 56% in 1959 and child labour rates have fallen from 24% to less than 10% in the last 50 years.
In the UK, we are far from perfect but our people have unprecedented wealth, opportunity, freedom, liberty and potential simply unimagined by previous generations who endured war, unemployment, destitution, discrimination, back breaking physi- cal labour, poor diet and real poverty and malnutrition, squalor and unhappiness.
As we enter a new year, let’s remember that the glass is fuller than it’s ever been and count our blessings.
The story of mankind is one of constant progress and discovery.