This week I learned how not to be ignorant. Well, at least about some things. I watched a fascinating TED Talk with Global Health Expert Hans Rosling that challenged my thinking. The speaker had audience members take a poll about their knowledge of the world in regards to poverty, people dying from natural disasters and women becoming educated. The questions basically asked if all three situations in the world were improving, staying the same or getting worse.
What do you think? Do you think more people today are dying from natural disasters compared to 100 years ago? Do you think poverty is increasing, or are more people improving their situations? Do you think women are being educated as much as men?
The audience was very wrong. And I was, too. The truth is fewer people die from natural disasters now compared to 100 years ago, fewer people are in poverty, and women are educated worldwide almost exactly the same as men.
What’s the point and why does this matter?
It matters because things are improving. This is good news. So often we look at the news and think everything is getting worse. All we see are the bad things because those are the things that attract interest. Plus, with the vast sea of news sources and instant availability, we see this bad stuff everywhere we go and the loud hype becomes our reality. But what we see is not always what we get. The world isn’t as bad as we think.
Does this get you excited like it does me? This means people making efforts to improve the world are being successful because things are improving. So many of us look at the world and only see the bad, so our instinct is to believe that the world is headed in a downward spiral. When we think this way, our enthusiasm for trying to help the world get better fades and we may not make committed efforts because, “Will it matter anyway?”
It does matter. The facts prove it. What you do to make the world a better place actually makes the world a better place.
I’m the director of KidsLife, a Christian youth organization, and we believe in this very strongly. Our theme verse is 1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”
We believe in the youth we serve and their ability to be examples and world-changers no matter their age. There have been many stories in national and local news recently about the young generation and its desire to improve the world. I’m quite proud of them. They believe positive change can happen and maybe they are the ones that wouldn’t have failed Han’s quiz about the world. While I’m just one man, I say, “bravo” to these youth. Many have gone before you in the world and now the world is a better place. You may be young, but maybe that just means that you haven’t been trained to think that nothing you do will make any difference.
I think from now on I’m going to start talking about how much better the world will be in the next 100 years. I’m going to live like the world can be a better place, because according to the facts, it can be. In fact, just this week I became a little less ignorant.
Ryan Koltiska is executive director of Sheridan Kids Life.