Our perception of the world around us is consistently of a world worse-off than its reality. There are several theories about why this is, but the core fact comes down to this: the world is doing much better than we imagine it to be. In the last 20 years, global poverty has been halved; global pandemic notwithstanding, the global community is healthier than it has ever been with vaccinations on the rise. Steven Pinker’s famous work Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined highlights a world at its most peaceful state in the history of our species. However, maps of stark red against blue and blaring breaking news warnings portray a world deeply divided, sparking our fear instinct that leads us to believe that the world is, in fact, worse than ever. In statistician Hans Roslings words, “the world can be both bad and better.” Despite its problems, we’re on a good track.
Has it always been the same story? Two people, one tree, not enough land or light or love? How do you perceive conflict in the world around you? How do you perceive unity? How does this new era of conflict and violence shape our understanding of the world around us? Does our perception more deeply entrench us in our worldview? If so, how can we change what has always been the same story?
Brianna Curran, Washington, DC