Friday, March 2, 2012

What a wonderful world this is.

Last year I ended up in a discussion about the Arabian spring. My friend saw it as horrible and negative while I saw it as something revitalizing and positive. Yes, people suffer and die, but they do it for freedom and a change that will hopefully be for the better. Seeing the world as my friend did means that it's "better" if suppressed people all over the world shut up and suffer in silence. Segregation, suppression, discrimination, persecution and torture are all "good" things as long as she doesn't have to hear about it.
My friend did of course see how illogical her emotional response to what she saw in the news was when I pointed it out to her.

It's not something she's alone about. We all have emotional responses to the information we get through media. It's horrible to see death, suffering and destruction. This is why we need to step back and look at the larger picture. It's horrible to see starving children, and they do deserve to get all the help that we can give, but it doesn't mean that the world is worse than before. That we see them means that they can get help, something that's impossible if no one knows that they suffer.

I subscribe to the Sceptic newsletter and in the last letter Michael Shermer wrote a review on Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler. I think the review and the books he mention clearly shows how our "emotional mentality" colours our opinions on the state this world is in. Do take the time to read it.

Two examples from the review (source):
  • Poverty: The number of people living in absolute poverty has fallen since the 1950s and has dropped by more than half. At the current rate of decline it will reach zero by around 2035.  
  • Expenses: Groceries today cost 13 times less than 150 years ago in inflation adjusted dollars. 
The average person don't know this. It's not what you see in media. Prizes are going up, everything costs more and there are more poor people than ever, if you look at the news.

Our minds are powerful tools. If we are negative then the world is horrible, but if we are positive then the world will be wonderful. Why not make the choice to live in a wonderful world.

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