Five Reasons Why 2015 Was The Best Year Ever For Humanity

Don’t Give In To The Dark Side

  • Justin Zoradi
Five Reasons Why 2015 Was The Best Year Ever For Humanity

(Borrowed in parts from Fareed Zakaria & Charles Kenny)

Lately, after feeding my daughter breakfast, I’ll look out my living room window and think, “Is the world I live in safe anymore?” Raising a tiny human adds extra weight to the answer.

With the horrific attacks in Paris, the millions of refugees fleeing Syria, economic uncertainty, and the shocking number of mass shootings in America, it’s easy to feel paralyzed with fear.

Then you throw in an upcoming presidential election and a 24-hour news cycle, and things start feeling really crazy.

Yet, so often personal emotions, based on things we’ve read or seen on TV, can get in the way of actual facts. In the 1960’s, Professor George Gerbner coined the term, Mean World Syndrome to describe a direct correlation between the amount of television one watches and the amount of fear one harbors of the world around them.

While 2015 seemed like a really bad year for humanity, the opposite is actually true.

I’ll go bold here and claim that,

2015 actually was the best year in history for the average human being.

Don’t believe me? In 2015 we are better-educated, better-fed, safer, healthier, freer, — and potentially set to get richer, too.

Here’s the proof:

1. The Decline of Violence & Terrorism

Despite the epidemic of mass-shooting events in America, our country is still far safer than it was in the past. The FBI reported this summer that the previous year had 600,000 fewer acts of violence than in 1995 —that’s a 35 percent decline over the period.

In terms of terrorism and war, across the globe, the numbers of ongoing wars and battle deaths are still far below their levels of the 1970s and 1980s. And substantially lower than the early part of the 20th century where the richest countries of the world were in militaristic geopolitical competition with one another. Don’t forget that World War II alone killed 60 million people.

With the rise of the ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab and other radical groups, terrorism deaths have increased slightly since 2012. But they remain responsible for about three hundredths of one percent of global mortality.

Don’t forget:

2. Remarkable Advancements in Health and Medicine in 2015

Because of continued rising standards of living, hygiene, and medicine, in 2015 the UN reported that global child mortality has more than halved since 1990. This means 6.7 million fewer kids under the age of five are dying each year compared to 1990.

Take that in: Nearly 7 million families avoided the pain of burying their child in 2015. That’s the population of Los Angeles and Chicago combined.

In Africa alone, 2015 saw the continent:

This is nothing short of remarkable progress.

Did I forget to mention that we actually gain five hours of life expectancy every day, without even exercising?

3. Robust Economic Growth

The economy could always be better, sure. But think long term here. In 1980, the number of countries that were growing at 4% a year — robust growth — was around 60. By 2007, the number had doubled, and this year the IMF has actually forecasted nearly 4% growth for almost all emerging and developing countries.

The global economy as a whole will grow 10% to 20% faster this decade than it did a decade ago, and 60% faster than it did two decades ago.

Seven of the ten fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa alone. This is nothing short of incredible.

In the United States, November 2015 saw the unemployment rate fall to 5%, the lowest level since April 2008.

You’re also paying far less at the pump than you used to. Low gas prices have saved the average American driver about $540 this year. That works out to roughly $10 per fill-up. A small stat, but important.

4. Substantial Reduction in Global Poverty

This September, The World Bank declared, for the first time ever, that less than 10% of the global population lives in extreme poverty. That is down from 37% as recently as 1990. This means hundreds of millions of families around the world have economic opportunity in ways they never have before.

To date, more people have risen out of poverty in the last 50 years than in the last 500. This is the greatest increase in economic potential in human history.

5. The Empowered Women of 2015

2015 saw impressive gains for women globally with a number of historic improvements:

The empowerment of women, whether in small town in Saudi Arabia or a boardroom in America, is good for the world.

So what does all this mean? It means that more than ever, these are the times to make a significant difference in the world. If you live in the global north and have a college degree, you are effectively a member of the most powerful people group the world has ever known.

This isn’t a time to be scared, to hide away thinking that the big bad world is out to get us.

This is a time to be bold. A time to do work that matters. A time to leverage this unique point in human history that you are privileged to be living in.

Now, I don’t believe in the myth of progress – that just by existing, over time, human beings will eventually figure out how to solve problems and save the world. Despite our technological progress, the sinister forces of evil, corruption, and destruction have a glaring foothold in our world. Technology cannot solve the darkness that grips at the seams of every human heart. I don’t believe in a utopia. But I believe, as Dr. King says,

    Human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of people willing to be co-workers with God. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

2015 has been a tough year in many respects, but as it comes to a close, don’t forget the remarkable good that is taking place all around the world. In every country, in every city, in every neighborhood, there are good people working tirelessly for the betterment of our world. Those are the people we need to partner with. Those are the stories we need to tell.

To an even better 2016,

- JZ

Photo credit: Nate Grubbs

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Comments (1)

  • David Ramos

    David Ramos

    30 December 2015 at 14:10 |
    Love this viewpoint! It's so easy to let the bad wash out the good, but we really are making progress as humans and hopefully next year we will see even more proof that we are constantly moving towards a better world.

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