Hope or Despair – It’s Your Choice

January 13, 2012

Things are really bad aren’t they?  Have you heard lately just how bad things are from the media?  Are you stocking up for the great financial crash when anarchy sets in and it will be every man for himself?  Are you hearing a steady stream of just how bad our world is? Are you pessimistic about the future of mankind?

Before you go jump off a cliff, Dr. Bradley Wright wants you to think about a few things that he has put in his book Upside.  First of all he reminds us that the news media is a business and needs to make a profit and that with the 24/7 news cycle it has become hyper-competitive.  They also know that fear sells.  If they can scare you enough, you will pay attention to their newscast, website, newspaper, and so on.  So fear is their primary means of getting your attention – even when what they are talking about should generate no fear at all!

Let me give you a few pieces of information from Dr. Wright’s book:

  • Total compensation in the US has risen by one-third from 1980 to 2004. A family of four today actually earns 41% more than a family of four in 1970.
  • Since 1955 world income has increased three-fold.
  • From 1915 – 1940 between 50% – 75% of Americans lived in poverty.  That number today is between 11% and 15%.  Of course what we define as poverty here in the US is wealthy in the rest of the world.
  • In 1981 a full 52% of people living in developing countries lived in poverty – this has fallen to 26% in 2005.  A full 50% reduction in only 25 years.
  • Commodities and goods are not only much cheaper now, but are of much higher quality. A measure they used is how many minutes of work does it take to purchase something.  In 1920 it took 27 minutes worked to purchase a gallon of milk – in 1998 it was only 7 minutes.
  • Americans now live longer than ever before. Someone born in 1900 could expect to live 47 years, born in 1950 could expect 68 years, now it is 80. Overall, life expectancy worldwide has doubled in just 100 years – an extraordinary accomplishment!
Those are just a few highlights – also, infant mortality rates have dropped dramatically, accidental deaths have dropped, there has been a radical decline in deaths from infectious diseases, AIDS cases are declining, hunger rates worldwide have dropped remarkably and on and on.
There are still serious issues in this world, but there has been great progress made and there is reason for hope.  And at the center of the movements to make things better are Christians injecting grace and hope into this world.
So, don’t give in to despair and pessimism – live a life of hope and joy!  Where things are broken, engage and be part of the process of redeeming a broken world for the glory of Christ.  Be an agent of hope!
BG