With the arrival of the Winter Solstice, it’s time for our traditional celebrations, taking stock, and looking to the future. Although there’s much to deplore in the world - the continuing atrocities of war, terrorism, injustice, corruption and deprivation, which our media constantly remind us of - there are still reasons for hope, which largely go unreported.
In his book Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future, Johan Norberg documents the ways in which, from a historical perspective, the world has become a better place:
- Food is more plentiful and cheap
- Clean water and sanitation are increasingly available
- Life expectancy has increased
- Poverty has decreased dramatically
- War and violence kill fewer people than in the past
- Increasing wealth has benefited the environment
- Literacy is widespread
- People are increasingly free of arbitrary authority
- Equality is being experienced more often and expected
Hope and being optimistic is a choice we all make, even in the face of disaster and tragedy. A recent study from Harvard has confirmed that it’s far better for us to have an optimistic outlook on life and be hopeful that good things will happen, for it significantly reduces the risk of dying from several major diseases, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, respiratory disease and infection.
In spite of all the challenges we face, there is good reason to choose to be hopeful. In my Wake Up and Hear the Thunder: Finding Hope in a Hopeless World (2012), I wrote about the shift in consciousness that is taking place in our world. The old order may be collapsing, but we are experiencing the birth pangs of a radically new era. It is up to each one of us to do whatever we can to contribute to creating the new paradigm that is emerging, and not get drawn into being judgmental and negative.
At this time of year, when light is born in darkness and the great myth of the birth of hope for all mankind is retold and sung throughout the world, we can choose to remember that love has the power to heal the world, and endeavour to practise it in our own lives.
I wish you peace and joy and light this Christmas.