Todd’s Thoughts November 2018

Fall is upon us and the mornings already greet us with a chill. The political and social situation in our country also gives us chills. So does climate change, and the rise of authoritarian leaders around the world. It light of such big concerns, it’s difficult to think about Thanksgiving, about giving thanks during these darker days. I could list some of the usual reasons to be grateful, but with such big issues to contend with, we need big reasons for gratitude. We must look at gratitude from a grander scale than usual. Did you know, for instance, that hunger and poverty are on the decline around the world. Today, twice as many people will die from overeating than from malnutrition (which may also be a depressing thought). Plagues no longer threaten to wipe most our species out, or many of us at all compared to ages past, thanks to advances in science and medicine that allow us to discover treatments and develop vaccines faster than once imaginable. War in our time is responsible for about 1 percent of deaths, compared to 15 percent in ancient times. Far more people die of suicide or diabetes than from violence these days. People are living longer, the global birth rate has stabilized, and since 1990 the number of people round the world living in extreme poverty has been cut in half. Of course, things don’t get better by accident. People must care and work hard to improve the human condition. But for those of us doing this vital groundwork, it’s sometimes hard to see the bigger picture, to view the panoramic of all our progress, especially during a season of history that give us the chills and darkens our days. Yet, from a birds-eye view, the arch of the Universe still bends toward justice, and there are big things to be grateful for.

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