As a world, we’re experiencing huge problems that are painfully obvious. These are problems that desperately need to be addressed and resolved. They range from mercurial leaders to destructive national policies, from outbreaks of xenophobia to violent religious intolerance, from widespread bombing of fringe terrorist groups to a growing refugee crisis. In addition, scientists continually warn us about the ever imminent threat of wrecking the environment beyond repair to running out of fossil fuels by 2088.
However, while all this looks bad, from a historical perspective, the planet has never been better. It’s safer to travel in many parts of the world. There are no absolute monarchies and fewer dictatorships. People are getting healthier and wealthier. In the greater scheme of things, then, the advantages once reserved only for the few are now becoming more evenly disseminated among the many.
On a global scale, healthcare, life expectancy, and education have improved. Let’s take a closer look at these three examples of how the world is actually getting better.
The world around us seems to be more focused on being healthier than ever. This is not only due to improved medical devices and more knowledge but also because of increased medical access. There are all sorts of wearable tech for the medical field, and you can even see doctors and get prescriptions online. That being said, not everything is available online. For example, when it comes to a drug addiction, you might actually need to go a place for rehab. Personal care is not something that can be done remotely, no matter how ambitious our national policies are or how sophisticated our technology gets. Fortunately, improvements in traditional solutions help to bridge the gap. For example, an addiction treatment Arizona facility like The River Source offers a detoxification process that includes integrative medical care, which of course, is not something that could be delivered remotely but which is equally not something available to the average person 100 years ago.
- Life Expectancy
Life expectancy is perhaps the best measure of human progress. It means that people are healthier and have more resources to live a better quality of life. In the Middle Ages, the life expectancy was about 35 years. This doesn’t mean that there weren’t any septuagenarians or octogenarians, just that about half of the population died around the age of 35 due to disease or violence. Most of the big improvements in life expectancy improved during the 20th century. In the 1900s, life expectancy was about 50. Today, the highest life expectancy is in Japan, where it is now in the mid-80s.
Although the first written documents date back to around 3000 BCE, it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that literacy started to spread after the mass production of books became possible. Although it was one of the goals of the Enlightenment to have a public push in national policies for universal literacy, this didn’t actually happen until the 19th century, which then gained increased momentum in the 20th century.
Today, literacy is spreading quickly because of the internet. In fact, you can even enroll in university courses online for free using the MOOC program.
Here are 3 reasons why the internet has been able to increase literacy around the world:
- Teachers in a country can share their teaching strategies across the entire nation in minutes to influence other teachers. These ideas include how to prepare lesson plans to how to improve current teaching methods.
- Students of any age can access the internet. This means young children can get a head start on many topics that they are learning in a formal school setting. It also means that those who have left school can go back and catch up on essential skills that they missed when they were younger. For instance, someone in their fifties who is numerically illiterate may not be able to sit in on grade school classes to catch up on math, but through online courses, they can go all the way up to 8th grade in the privacy of their home.
- Online learning makes it easier to grasp difficult subjects. In a classroom setting, a student has to take good notes to keep up with the teacher, but on the Internet, it’s possible to rewind a video lecture and carefully catch each concept. In addition, there are transcripts available, supplemental notes, and forums to help clarify ideas.
While it’s impossible to deny that our world is facing serious issues, we’re still doing better as a species than at any earlier time in history. Yes, it’s true that healthcare could be better, that life expectancy could be improved in many parts of the world, and that many children in developed nations are declining in literacy standards, it’s still important to remember that things that we now take for granted would have been considered marvels in the past.