Take a moment to think about what there is to be grateful for – family, friends, health, food, a roof over your head. The go further and think of what you may take for granted – clean water, sewers, electricity, vaccinations, paved roads, cell phones, schools, a job, well stocked stores, safe neighborhoods.
Now broaden your thoughts a bit further and you find there is good reason to feel optimistic and grateful on the global front as well. Hard work and charitable contributions are paying off as data shows that global poverty is in decline. “The Economist magazine says that “…the biggest poverty-reduction measure of all is liberalizing markets to let poor people get richer. That means freeing trade between countries and within them (China’s real great leap forward occurred because it allowed private business to grow).” As a result, extreme poverty has decreased from 52% to 21% which equates to an amazing billion people with better lives over the past 30 years.
Furthermore, people are living longer. The World Health Organization states, “Global average life expectancy increased by 5 years between 2000 and 2015, the fastest increase since the 1960s.” This reverses the declines caused by the AIDS epidemic of the 1990’s in Africa when recently life expectancy increased by 9.4 years and child survival improved significantly.
Perhaps it is not a surprise that much of life improvement is funded by contributions. Data by the National Center for Charitable Statistics has found that Americans are indeed helping to make that difference through extraordinary acts of charitable giving. “Giving by individuals makes up the vast majority of contributions received by nonprofit organizations. Giving USA 2015 estimates that individual giving amounted to $258.51 billion in 2014, an increase of 7.1 percent in current dollars from 2013. This accounts for 72 percent of all contributions received in 2014.”
The good news continues as closer to home and family, studies show that young adults are reading more. Millennials buy more books than other generations (30% compared to 24% for Baby Boomers) – and approximately 61% of them also have a library card as well! Now also consider the ample research that shows reading makes you smarter, live longer, and more empathetic.
And … despite what you see in the media, the general trend of violence is decreasing. In an interview earlier this year Psychologist Steven Pinker, author of “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” explained: “I looked at homicide, looked at war, looked at genocide, looked at terrorism. And in all cases, the long-term historical trend, though there are ups and downs and wiggles and spikes, is absolutely downward. The rate of violent crime in United States has fallen by more than half in just a decade. The rate of death in war fell by a factor of 100 over a span of 25 years.”
In retrospect, 2016 was a remarkable year in so many, many ways. But, yes life is getting better for so many. When people help people, even in very small ways, everyone benefits.
Read more here: