Is the world today better than it was…?

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It took me few days to write this. I have so many ideas that I feel I could write a book about this and I needed time to narrow it down. I tried to capture most of my thoughts in 850 words, because I want people to continue reading and I am very interested to hear other opinions on this topic. Sorry that it ends on a dark note, sometimes I cannot help it. 

IMG_4212It seems like every time this question comes  up, everybody immediately thinks that the world is definitely better today and fails to even accept that the issue could be up for debate.

Most people’s responses are that life expectancy has increased, medicine and vaccines have prevented a lot of deaths,  there are more freedoms, slavery is abolished and people in Ireland won’t starve today if the potato season was not successful.

In my opinion this is a very shallow view of things and the world is not better today than it was two centuries ago (and two centuries here is rather an arbitrary number).

I am not saying, however, the world is necessarily worse today, but the issue is not black and white and there are different benefits to different times.

It is true that we have made a huge progress medically that almost eliminated death from simple surgeries or during child birth, for example. It is also true that life expectancy is much higher today than it ever was before. However, this is not the case worldwide. Even today, there are people who are lucky to live past the age of forty. The global economic system limits access to vaccines to those who can pay for it which is causing preventable deaths. Not to mention that there are a lot of people who die outside of hospitals because they cannot afford to pay for them.

It is true that I have more freedoms than my grandmother did. There is absolutely no question there. However, that does not mean that I am necessarily happier, nor does it mean that I am immune from patriarchal discrimination. In fact, patriarchy is alive and well  in North America, as well as it is everywhere else. Moreover, the fact that I have some freedoms is not granted, it is a privilege that does not extend to all the young women out there. In various, very imaginable scenarios, I could be very much worse off than my grandmother was at my age.

Some might argue that people made positive progress, abolished slavery, fought racism, passed a charter of rights and freedoms, etc, all of which are positive.

However, the impact of those actions shies away when compared to the not so positive things we’ve done.

In the last century alone, we’ve caused two world wars followed by a miserable failure at keeping world peace, and we did a great job at developing the weapon industry to keep up with the rising population of the world. We  have mined gold, copper, diamond, among many in extremely dangerous conditions, destroying the environment and putting the lives and lifestyles of people who live around it at risk of diseases and cancers and most importantly hunger and impoverishment because of the destruction of farm land.

We’ve constructed arbitrary borders, led mostly by corrupted governments that separated tribes and families, disturbed the lives of many indigenous people,  and continue to do so shamelessly.

We’ve subjected the atmosphere to ridiculous amounts of CFCs and thinned the Ozone layer causing skin cancers to rise. Then we found a solution (which is a good thing I suppose), but didn’t learn from our mistakes, so we quadrupled the GHG emissions causing what could be the biggest problem facing humanity: climate change that is. And now we do nothing as ice caps are melting at an unprecedented rates, sea levels are rising, droughts, floods and extreme weather events are increasing causing major impacts on ecosystems as well as agriculture and food production. In fact, governments and corporations are actively contributing to the problem.

We’ve modified crops, terminated seeds, added cancerogenous chemicals into our daily bread (quite literally), polluted then privatized drinking water and started selling oxygen.

We’ve created a global economic system that destroyed local farms, so we can export food from four continents and three oceans away. A discriminatory system that denies basic needs and rights for people who cannot afford it. A system that makes it almost impossible and prohibitive to have a local business. A system that renders us so dependent in our daily lives. A system that is so discriminatory that losing power in one part of the world could be detrimental, while other places have no electricity at all.

When a percentage of the population is better of, it doesn’t mean that the world is a better place; it is called privilege.

When we have the technology to provide clean water and vaccines and we keep it away from those who need it the most, it is called a crime.

If this is a better world, I have no idea how the worst world would look like.

I can’t help but think that this is just how good and how bad our world is gonna get. I write this and I still have a glimmer of hope for humanity but maybe fairness and equality are too much to expect from the human race. Maybe, greed and individualism will always triumph.

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One thought on “Is the world today better than it was…?

  1. waawaaskesh

    hi , good thoughts. i think it was Frances Moore Lappe who wrote about how the world is getting very much worse and very much better at the same time. my understanding of what she wrote was a relatively smaller comparison (decades not centuries) but she could see all these really terrible things (continuing to) happen but also so much progress in terms of people organizing and making things better. so i guess it is hard to say, but good to challenge hegemonic thinking that we are always ‘progressing’ to better than ever before (one of the negatives is that i think life expectancy in the states for example is actually going down for children now compared with their parents due to unhealthy lifestyles) or that we (overall Western society) have reached the pinnacle of civilization

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