Fr. Hugo Tagle M., Chile •
A few months ago, a feature in the New York Times enumerated a series of encouraging signs on the state of the world, contradicting the extended pessimistic sensation that sometimes places an embargo on the Western world. “It is a better place to live although it is difficult to believe,” it tells us. In fact, we live what analysts call the “society of more.” More people in the world are more and better educated, more available goods, more sources of information. Chile is a good example of that: 90% of the population has Internet access. There are more cell phones than inhabitants. Illiteracy has been practically eradicated. And the problems due lack of nutrition has been reversed: today it is not the lack but the excess in weight that is concerning. A third of the younger population is overweight. Not only do we eat badly, we eat too much.
Advances in the struggle against serious epidemics
Although it may be difficult to believe, the world is not poorer, but richer. Daily 250,000 people leave extreme poverty, according to figures from the World Bank. The world overcame the massive outbreak of serious epidemics. We are overcoming leprosy. The number of those contaminated has been reduced by 97% since 1985, and today it is easily treatable. A global plan established 2020 as the deadline for children to no longer be deformed by leprosy. The struggle against this biblical illness speaks to the great advances in the battle against poverty and other dependent illnesses. Malaria, which yearly kills millions of people annually, has suffered a severe blow that could mean its definitive eradication in the next five years. Since 1990, the lives of more than 100,000,000 children have been saved thanks to vaccinations, better nutrition, and medical attention. Children no longer die of malaria, diarrhea or intestinal obstruction caused by worms. The question “will my children be able to survive?” is no longer relevant. Now we ask ourselves will they be able to study? Will they be able to work?
There are still reasons to worry
Yes, reality has become more complex. The risk for terrorism has increased, sea level, a product of climate change, and also the possibility of a nuclear war with a dire forecast. There are still good reasons to be concerned.
However along with highlighting the conflicts, the illnesses, and the abundant sufferings, it would be necessary to acknowledge the progress of the last five years, something unique since we have records. In the last fifty years, man has progressed more than in all of history. “The truth is that the present world is not depressing but inspiring” as one historian says.
Good efforts bring about fruitfulness
The world’s most important historical power today is not the terrorists nor North Korea. Rather they are the astounding advances in the fight against extreme poverty, illiteracy, and illnesses. They are all those children who do not get sick from leprosy and who go to school. Putting a pause on pessimism proves that good efforts render fruitfulness in spite of alarming signs that should not keep from concerning us.
Source: Vinculo Magazine, Chile, september 2017
Original: Spanish: October 1, 2017: Translation: Carlos Cantú, La Feria, Texas USA. Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA