Is the world really getting worse?

“The world isn’t getting worse — our information is getting better.” Ray Kurzweil

Ray goes on to say at Tunes Postback Conference in 2016 that the world isn’t getting worse. That’s simply our perspective. What’s actually happening is that the information we have about what’s happening in the world is getting much better.

A day rarely ends when someone hasn’t exclaimed to me how bad the world is getting. Even on vacation, I can’t escape this narrative. Bekah, my wife, and I were out for a late night jog around the city when a lady stops me out of nowhere to talk about a little bit of everything. She ranted, rather intelligently, about politics, social programs, homelessness, murder, muggings, and just about everything. I thought as she spoke, “It’ll be just a few more sentences now and I’ll get to hear about how bad the world’s becoming.” She didn’t disappoint. She reiterated several times to make sure I knew just how bad the world was getting.

The problem is that it’s not getting worse. I guess that isn’t really a problem, that’s great news. I know some are thinking, “That’s not what my favorite 24-hour news source told me.” If something’s getting worse, it’s more likely to be our news outlets rather than the actual world their suppose to report on. Poverty is declining. Literacy is rising. Global money inequality is declining. Population is increasing, yet commodity prices are falling. Life expectancy is increasing. The list literally goes on and on. Check out www.humanprogress.org for more facts and figures. I’ve stared people in the face with these facts, and seen them walk away unconvinced the world isn’t teetering over the depths of Mordor. We can all have different conclusions, but we’re all using the same facts. The world is not getting worse, it’s simply gone global and live.

When my kids have their mind set on something, they will do just about anything to talk me into it. When they realize their chances are slim, they double down on one or two pleadings that they’ve convinced themselves are true and then proceed trying to convince me. The “Well, what about the bloody and war-torn 20th-century” argument works a lot like this. It goes something like this, “Since the 20th-century is the bloodiest in recorded history then the world cannot be getting better.” This has truly become one of my favorite objections. First of all, the fact that we’ve got recorded history as opposed to unrecorded history is one evidence the world is getting better. Second, most completely dismiss the reality that the 20th century was the first time in human history that the world was globalized. The globalization of the world didn’t come without birth pangs, and the further we get away from the 20th century, the more peaceful our global world becomes. I’m not saying it’s perfect, or even close, but there is overwhelming evidence that the world is getting better.

BY JOSHUA WHETSTINE – NORTH AMERICAN MISSION BOARD CHURCH PLANTING STRATAGIST FOR MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL. 

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