Is the World Really Such a Bad Place?

Bad politicians, terrorists, and the Zika virus will collectively wipe out the human race in the very near future, or at least sometime within the current news cycle. These introductory words might be funny if there weren’t so many people who find some truth in it.

Perhaps the biggest problem facing humanity today is not that the world is increasingly becoming a bad place to live but that we think that the world is becoming a bad place to live.

And why do we think this? Because that’s the perspective we are most often given (and we don’t choose to find alternative, more truthful perspectives).

To illustrate my point in a simple way, think of how a typical evening newscast is structured: Out of 30 minutes airtime, approximately 28 minutes is filled with stories of tragic events around the world, stories of tragic events in our country, reports of threatening diseases, politics, and the commercials in between that suggest you can’t be happy without their product or service. The other two minutes, which always comes at the end of the newscast, is a heart-warming, human interest story.

Therefore, on the so-called “news,” you get more than 90% of disturbing stories and illusory advertisements and less than 10% of what is a much more accurate reflection of humanity.

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

For a bit of unscientific perspective, think of how many people live on the earth and how many of them are so terrible that they threaten our existence or even our ability to find happiness: There are roughly 7 billion people inhabiting earth today. How many of them do you believe are serious threats to the rest of us? Would you guess 10 percent?

To arrive at a meaningful number for discussion purposes, let’s say that the total number of the world’s worst politicians, the terrorists, the most violent criminals, the terribly corrupt corporate types, and the just plain evil people in the world totals 7 million. That’s probably an incredibly high number. But for perspective’s sake that’s one-tenth of one percent of the world’s population.

In our quick unscientific observation, we can say that at as much as 99.9% of the world’s population are either good human beings or at least ones who don’t cause real problems for the others around them.

Now think of the number of terrible human beings reported in the news every day. If what we see in the news and social media represented reality, the truly bad stuff wouldn’t even be a flash on a screen, a word in a podcast, or a paragraph in a book.

“We think we know, that is our tragedy; so we never discover.” ~ Anthony DeMello

Perhaps the real problem that exists in the world today is not bad human beings but the ignorant ones. When people can’t recognize illusion, or they simply prefer it to reality, the illusionists will remain the most powerful.

The world isn’t near as bad of a place as the news media and social media reflect. But if there is increasingly less reality and more illusion communicated to the masses, ignorance will thrive and potentially create a self-fulfilling prophecy to make the world as bad as the media in all its forms reports today.

Is there a solution to ignorance? Not a quick and easy one. But a good start is to cut the cable, turn off the TVs, unsubscribe to mainstream print media, stop listening to ideological radio and podcasts, and limit social media posts to images of family vacations and the meals you are eating.

But alas, the goal of living more in reality may be achievable but ironically not realistic.


Kent Thune is the blog author of The Financial Philosopher. You can follow Kent on Twitter @ThinkersQuill.

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