Politics has a bad image, and probably for good reason: bad things happen all the time, and it is exactly the bad things that make it into mainstream media, which includes blog posts by random Dutch guys. In the past few weeks, or perhaps even months, I spent my time explaining problem after problem and letting you know why we should care about these things. However, even though raising awareness is certainly a good way to use politics to improve the world, it does have the rather unfortunate side-effect of also reminding us that things aren’t perfect right now. Ignoring the positive side, though, would be wrong, because despite all that is wrong with this world, there is also much that makes this world amazing.
To start out with the obvious, you are reading this. You are reading a blog post by a guy who certainly hasn’t always been equally positive about the people in power, yet that guy still has a head to spew these thoughts from. We have the internet, a place where freedom of speech is so well developed that we make a major fuss about laws that might threaten that freedom to even the tiniest extent, because even the thought that we might be imprisoned for having views belongs to a different world. Better still, the fact that we own a computer or a phone indicates enormous prosperity, because apparently, we don’t have to spend every day of our lives trying to get food and can instead spend it on amazing technology and creating blog posts with too many rainbow pictures.
Perhaps slightly less obvious is the enormous political and economic progress that has been made in the past few decades. More democracies exist than ever before in history, and while it’s terrible that there are still millions of slaves in this world, it would be ridiculous to forget that there are also 7 billion people who aren’t slaves, something that couldn’t be said a century ago. Additionally, to steal a few facts from John Green, infant mortality has never been lower, divorce rates have been constantly going down since 2006, absolute poverty has gone down more in the past 50 years than in the previous 500, literacy rates have increased and malaria mortality rates have plummeted.
As to my own blog posts over the past few weeks, while the dismantling of dictatorships that were held together by the Cold War has led to conflicts in recent years, it also means that dictators are toppling by the dozens, and that is certainly not a bad thing. Burkina Faso might have faced political crisis, but it got rid of its dictator, and Somalia, despite being ruined by the US in the 1990s now has a functioning democracy. Better still, racism has reached a point where we can debate traditions and police-shootings rather than actual laws upholding those actions, and regardless of how much I will keep whining about the discrimination that Muslims face on an everyday basis, islamophobia is becoming a term that people use and I have no doubt that there will come a day very soon when WordPress will no longer put that red line underneath it as if it is a word I made up.
All of these things show that the world is improving, and while I often forget to mention that simply because progress requires us to identify (and to improve) the bad things, there is no doubt that there are many good things out there as well. In fact, we, as humanity, are doing great, and we will continue to do great.
It is often said that misery and suffering are part of the human condition, and that’s true. But so is happiness. And we shouldn’t forget that. Life is not without its misery, but neither is it without its happiness, and as much as we should be aware of the former, it is the latter that can remind us of why we’re still here. Happiness and positivity are inescapable, even if it sometimes takes a while, and that goes not only for life in general, but even for politics.
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