I am reminded of one of my favorite passages from The Color Purple by Alice Walker. It comes at the end of the book when Celie and Mr. _____ have made peace with one another and are talking on the porch.
Anyhow, he say, you know how it is. You ast yourself one question, it lead to fifteen. I start to wonder why us need love. Why us suffer. Why us black. Why us men and women. Where do children really come from. It didn't take long to realize I didn't hardly know nothing. And that if you ast yourself why you black or a man or a woman or a bush it don't mean nothing if you don't ast why you here, period.
So what you think? I ast.
I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ast. And that in wondering bout the big things and asting bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, he say, the more I love.
And people start to love you back, I bet, I say.
They do, he say, surprise.If Mr. _____ is right, then really good writing will make us wonder about the big things. In doing so, we'll learn more about the little ones. That's just what this article by Zack Beauchamp did for me when I read it this morning. Tossing the conventional wisdom of cynicism aside, the title is: "Humankind is better off than it has ever been - and its thanks to government."
There has never been a better time to be a human being than in March 2014. People live longer, wealthier, happier lives than they ever have. Each of the Four Horsemen — disease, famine, war, and death — are being beaten back.That instinct you feel to question what Beauchamp is saying is the intersection of wonder and curiosity meeting conventional wisdom...go with it! First of all, is what he is saying true? Check out the facts. Have we been mired for so long in cynicism and victimhood that we've totally lost sight of the big picture of progress? If so, does that mean we simply abandon the struggle and rest on our laurels? How does the optimism of progress intersect with the very real issues people face today? Who wins/loses from our culture of cynicism? I could go on. But perhaps you get the idea. In the end, is Mr. _____ right? Is it true that: "The more I wonder, the more I love."
This isn't just my opinion. The data is incontrovertible. Life expectancy is the highest it's ever been, and getting higher. Global GDP has never reached our present heights. The number of humans in poverty has never been lower. Wars between nations are almost extinct, and wars in general are getting less deadly.
The notion of human progress isn't a grand theory anymore; it's a fact. So why do so many people insist on telling you it's impossible?