The headlines are, and will always be, disastrous. If you spend five minutes reading a newspaper or watching a newscast, you might be tempted to believe that the Earth is seconds away from total destruction. Surely things have never been this bad, right?
Actually, things have never been this good. Check out this video from Hans Rosling, a British statistician who is able to bring numbers to life. Rosling shows how the past 200 years have elevated us to new heights of life expectancy and wealth. We have never lived longer or earned more. In addition, we have never had this much food to eat. Babies are surviving their first years of life at a much higher percentage than at any other time in our planet's history. Communication and transportation have never been easier or faster. Of course, we do have major problems that will demand solutions over time. Yet, human beings are a far cry from the "nasty, brutish, and short" lifetimes that we used to have in previous centuries.
History can teach us many lessons. One of these is that we should be grateful for modernity. Despite its faults, life in the contemporary world is vastly better than it used to be. We will be happier people if we learn how far we have come and express gratitude for our progress.