Hope for the New Year

posted in: Red Herrings | 2

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really make New Year’s Resolutions any more.

In fact, I haven’t made them in quite a few years.  That’s not to say that I don’t make goals, but I don’t base them on the passing of the year.  Frankly, it’s a pretty arbitrary construct and I just don’t find it particularly useful.  But, looking back, 2014 was a pretty good year.  For instance, it was the year that I started meditating regularly and that has been a good thing.  I also changed jobs, which was also a good thing.  I have to admit that it has been more work, not less, but it’s been more rewarding and I’m generally happier.

And, that brings me to the hope I have to offer for the coming year.
To listen to the media, of all kinds, things are falling apart.  According to them, we’re all in immanent danger of being killed or attacked or dying horribly some way.  Politicians would have us believe that, if we don’t put them in office to protect us, someone will snatch away our liberty, rights or security, depending on who is campaigning.  In short, we are constantly being told that the End Times are Nigh.
As it turns out, we have been told that for literally hundreds of years and, so far, whatever has been decried as the end of culture and civilization as we know it, has never quite managed to ruin everything.  In fact, recent studies show that things are actually getting better in measurable ways.
According to statistics gathered by government agencies around the world, and presented in an easy-to-read format by Slate, global rates of homicide and assault are generally going down.  Yes, certain localized areas have higher levels of violence, but those are war zones, which have pretty much always existed, too.  In general, the rates of sexual assault of all kinds are decreasing, and have been since the 90’s.  And, for those of you who are politically minded, the global level of political democratization is going up, while the level of autocracy (i.e. dictators) has been going down fairly steadily.  While armed conflicts rose in the late 80’s and early 90’s, even organized violence in that manner is decreasing.  But, not only that, the number of deaths in those wars has steadily decreased, even during that brief peak in the 80’s and 90’s.  Mass killings, which are not part of interstate conflict, are down remarkably of the past 50-75 years.  And, in spite of our fear of terrorist attack, on an average year, more people in the United States are likely to die of a bee sting than of a terrorist attack.

Now, you may not agree with this view, and you may think I’m making it all up, but you can hit the link to the Slate article and see for yourself.  The statistics are there for anyone who cares to look.  Sure, there may be global climate change and financial difficulties, but there have always been problems like these in the world.  But, I find hope in the thought that, in general, we do actually seem to be living in a safer society than we used to.  My hope, you might even say, my belief, is that in that relatively greater peace and safety, we will be able to find solutions to the other problems.

So, this year, in 2015, if you must make a resolution, please, resolve this; resolve to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.  Don’t believe the people who want to spread fear and distrust and misery.  Instead, believe that the world is getting better and find even more opportunities to add to that improvement.  This year, choose hope and love and peace over fear and hate and violence.
Have a good year, everyone!