Saturday, March 5, 2016

This strange juxtaposition...........

      There are two ways to tell the story of the twentieth century.  You can describe a series of wars, revolutions, crises, epidemics, financial calamities.  Or you can point to the gentle but inexorable rise in the quality of life of almost everybody on the planet:  the swelling of income, the conquest of disease, the disappearance of parasites, the retreat of want, the increasing persistence of peace, the lengthening of life, the advances in technology.  I wrote a book about the latter story, and wondered why it seemed original and surprising to do so.  It was surely gloriously obvious that the world was a much, much better place than it had ever been.  Yet read the newspapers and you would think we had lurched from disaster to disaster, and faced a future of inevitable further disaster.  Glance at school history curriculums and you find them utterly dominated by the disasters of the past - and the crises of the future.  I could not quite reconcile in my mind this strange juxtaposition of optimism and pessimism.  In a world that delivers an endless supply of bad news, people's lives get better and better.

-Matt Ridley,  The Evolution of  Everything:  How New Ideas Emerge

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