Thanks Time magazine for reminding us that the world doesn’t revolve around the madman currently occupying the White House.
Fact: “The number of children in the world who die before their fifth birthday has dropped in half since 1990, meaning that 122 million children have been saved in a quarter century and countless families have been spared the heartbreak of losing a child.”
In his editorial — “The Good News” — leading off Time’s most recent issue, guest editor Bill Gates of Microsoft fame walks us through just how the world around us has improved significantly during the past few decades. He admits that news coverage of world events during the past year would not leave most people feeling upbeat about the prospects for life improving around the world in 2018.
“Hurricanes in the Americas. Horrific mass shootings. Global tensions over nuclear arms, crisis in Myanmar, bloody civil wars in Syria and Yemen,” he notes. “Your heart breaks for every person who is touched by those tragedies. Even for those of us lucky enough not to be directly affected, it may feel like the world is falling apart.”
Not once in his editorial does Gates mention the madman in Washington, D.C. or any of his Republican Party cohorts who live by preaching doom and gloom almost daily, sometimes hourly.
Fact: “In 1990, more than a third of the global population lived in extreme poverty; today only about a tenth do.”
Fact: “A century ago, it was legal to be gay in about 20 countries; today it’s legal in over 100 countries.”
Fact: “Women are gaining political power and now make up more than a fifth of members of national parliaments — and the world is finally starting to listen when women speak up about sexual assault.”
Fact: “More than 90 percent of all children in the world attend primary school.”
Fact: “In the U.S., you are far less likely to die on the job or in a car than your grandparents were.”
Gates admits that the pessimistic view of the world can largely be attributed to how mainstream and social media cover world events, following the ages-old adage that “if it bleeds, it leads.” Getting media to pay attention to “good news,” he realizes, is tough because it rarely involves drama. “Good news,” he writes, “is incremental — not usually deemed newsworthy.”
He also points out, however, that there “is a growing gap between bad things that still happen and our tolerance of those things.”
“Over the centuries, violence has declined dramatically, as has our willingness to accept it. But because the improvements don’t keep pace with our expectations it can seem like things are getting worse.”
And that’s where the master marketing madman enters the picture. He has an ear for the bad stuff, the slice of life that when presented in the worst possible light will scare the crap out of all of us, not just his ardent followers. He knows how to play up bad news to attract as much mainstream and social media attention as possible while presenting himself to the world as the only person who can either prevent these bad things from happening, or as the only “stable genius” with a plan for combating the ills that could befall us.
So thank you Time, and thank you, Bill Gates, for providing coverage of the “optimistic” view.
As Gates puts it:
“To some extent, it is good that bad news gets attention. If you want to improve the world, you need something to be mad about. But it has to be balanced by upsides. When you see good things happening, you can channel your energy into driving even more progress.”
That, my friends, is true genius talking. Note that his name is Bill Gates, and the people who joined him in crafting articles for this special issue of Time are among the best and the brightest from all walks of life.
These are the truly great people amongst us, who offer hope for the future.