Stop worrying about Brexit and Donald Trump – the world is actually getting better by the day

In the last 16 years alone, the number of global families living in poverty has been cut by more than 50 per cent. We're living longer, healthier, safer lives than ever before

Nash Riggins
Wednesday 28 December 2016 11:21
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Medical breakthroughs mean fewer people are dying of cancer than ever before
Medical breakthroughs mean fewer people are dying of cancer than ever before

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what colour you are, what type of music you’re into. Despite our many, many differences, we’ve all got one thing in common: we've had a pretty lousy year.

Don't try and argue with me. This was the year we spat on the lessons of the past and embraced hatred and isolationism. Racism underwent a hugely successful rebranding exercise and was sold to us in bulk under the guise of nationalism. British voters gobbled up spoon-fed lies about the European Union and rejected unity and tolerance. America hit itself in the head with a hammer and marched blindly into the wall of vitriol that Donald Trump built, and humanity redefined the true meaning of malice by repeatedly ignoring desperate pleas for help from across Syria and the Middle East.

Mass shootings, particularly in the US, are becoming more brutal and more frequent. Borders have closed in on refugees; currencies are crashing; racial tensions are flaring on both sides of the Atlantic.

And that’s just the world of politics. 2016 was also the year we said goodbye to David Bowie, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, John Glenn, Arnold Palmer, Nancy Reagan, Harper Lee, Leonard Cohen, Zsa Zsa, George Michael and Carrie Fisher – the list goes on and on.

Paralysed man feels through robotic fingers in world-first breakthrough

It’s at the end of years like these when you can’t help but feel a little blue. It's been a bad 12 months for empathy and kindness. It feels like progress has hit a wall and shattered into a thousand tiny pieces. It has been the kind of year that makes expectant mums and dads-to-be severely doubt whether they should be bringing a new child into this world in the first place.

But take heart, because despite all of the muck we’ve been forced to trudge through things really are looking up. No matter how dark and depressing life may feel like it has gotten for us in 2016, in fact, behind the headlines, the world has been showing a whole lot of promise lately. You’ve got to zoom out for a little bit of perspective here.

Recent scientific breakthroughs have all but eradicated diseases that have plagued mankind for centuries. We’re living longer together, and cancer is claiming fewer lives than ever before. Despite the horrors being committed in Aleppo and increasingly frequent terrorist attacks, war and genocide have actually dissipated.

In the last 16 years alone, governments from all over the world have banded together and slashed the number of global families living in poverty by more than 50 per cent. We’ve made leaps and bounds in eradicating hunger, too. The global population of chronically undernourished individuals has dropped by over 10 per cent – and believe it or not, nearly all of us have got a little bit more money in our pockets now than we used to.

And despite a few scary U-turns in 2016, social justice has been heading in roughly the right direction too. Love has tallied up some huge victories in the fight for marriage equality, women are (albeit slowly) reclaiming basic human rights in the Middle East and new dialogues on race and religion have sparked crucial and productive policy debates that could – and should – beget change in the years to come.

Can China eradicate poverty by 2020?

So, let's not beat around the bush: 2016 has been a horrible year. It really sucked. But we can’t let one horrible year get us off track. You and I have got all the tools we need to make this world a better place. The potential for progress is limitless, and there are a million-and-one things we can do to put a positive stamp on our communities.

So let’s buck up, get going and take advantage of all of the opportunities 2017 has to throw at us. Brush your shoulders off, get out there and be the change you want to see. There’s plenty to look forward to in the months to come.

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