21st September 2018
According to the Buddha, all of life is suffering, and the world seems to want to drive that point home right now. Democracies are giving way to autocracies, governments look more and more corrupt; the poor seem to get poorer and the rich get richer. There's Trump, the world's current emperor with no clothes, and he's not even the worst you can say about the USA - he's simply the fool being used by a highly corrupt party that has very little sense of the good, and a whole lot of allegiance to what is most expedient to its own survival. There's horrible racism and misogyny and just plain inhumanity, and that's still within the fifty states.
In addition, you have Russia using insidious means to expand its influence and its borders; and throughout Europe we are seeing the rise of authoritarian regimes. In England there's Theresa May and her party about to lead not only England off a cliff with Brexit, but Scotland, too, which expressly voted for this not to happen. The world over, we are witnessing vestiges of imperial power still wielding its ugly sword in the faces of those who would dare to oppose it.
Nothing in the world seems very stable at the moment, and it has you glued like a maniac to your online news or your twitter feed. It keeps you awake at night, because, perhaps the Buddha was right after all, and the whole turning globe we live upon is just a mess and complete mayhem.
But not so fast. Though it doesn't make for urgent headlines, not all the news is bad. Despite the gloom that the autocrats in power like to feed to their minions, things have been on the uptick in the world for quite a while now. I'm going to list a few of these things here, because every time I come across them, I'm able to catch a breath and actually enjoy the process of being human for a while.
Here's how the world is improving:
1) The incidence of war and people dying of war in the world is at an all-time low. Violence of all kinds in the world is down.
2) Death rates are falling globally. Better sanitation and advances in medicine translate into longer life-expectancy.
3) Infant mortality rates are down 15% in the last decade.
4) Maternal mortality has halved since 1990
5) The rate of global illiteracy has gone from near one hundred percent in the year 1800 to under fifteen percent in our time.
6) 721 million fewer people live in extreme poverty now compared to the year 1981
So, smile and be happy. The world isn't actually falling apart. In many ways, it is just starting to bring itself together.