Saturday, January 10, 2015

Spread the resolve of an optimist in 2015 - Voices -

Spread the resolve of an optimist in 2015 - Voices -

Spread the resolve of an optimist in 2015

On a global and national scale, I am not optimistic about many changes for the better in 2015.  
ISIS will not be easily defeated. The genuinely evil Boko Haram will kidnap more girls and terrorize more Nigerians. Somalia will not become a peaceful state. The Chinese government will continue to muffle its own citizens and persecute Tibetans. Vladimir Putin will continue his megalomaniacal quest to re-create the Russian Empire of Peter the Great.There are a thousand less well known political problems that will not be solved this year. Georgia and Moldova will still have parts of their territory occupied by Russia.  Women in Saudi Arabia will remain constrained in what they may do. Corruption will remain seemingly indigenous in nations such as Cambodia.  Pakistanis and Indians will struggle and from time to time fight over Kashmir. Drug lords will murder countless innocent people in Mexico, Honduras, and other Latin American nations. Indigenous peoples in the Amazon will be deprived of still more of their land and their culture. Roma people in Europe will be discriminated against both in places they have lived for centuries and in nations they have migrated to.And that is only the geopolitical picture!The world will get a bit warmer, and glaciers will continue to melt. Increasingly violent weather events will devastate some places still reeling from the last such event, and it will strike at seemingly random at new spots throughout the world.  Millions will die from lack of food, vaccination, mosquito netting, sufficient nutrients and preventable diseases. The world has enough food, but it is not distributed fairly. We have the medicines to prevent and cure many diseases, yet people still die from diarrhea and measles.  Many throughout the world will die prematurely because of bad decisions they have made. How many more people — both famous and not — will die from drug overdoses and dirty needles? And how many will die this year because they are addicted to nicotine, perhaps lured to try it by untruthful and suggestive ads?Here at home, our Congress will do little to legislate for a better life and a fairer chance for most Americans. Colleges will be less affordable. We will still have millions unemployed who desperately want to work and be self-sufficient.  We will watch those to whom we have entrusted our government posture and pose and primp in front of the cameras and worry more about their re-election campaigns and poll numbers than about the state of our Union.  This year, more brave police officers will be killed — perhaps a few even assassination style such as we saw recently in Brooklyn. More young black men will die by police bullets. The United States will continue to incarcerate more of its citizens than any nation on earth, and yet our recidivism rate will remain high. There will not be much emphasis on correction in our correctional facilities. And judges will sentence children to life imprisonment without possibility of parole, something only legal in the United States and Somalia.In Rochester, we will see every day the cost of high child poverty rates (Rochester is No. 2 in this embarrassing statistic, “outdone” only by Detroit). Avenue D will continue to be a place no sane person would drive at night or, for that matter, in the daytime. The police report in the Livingston County News will be lengthy next year, with drunk drivers, drug sellers, and a couple of child molesters. There will be fires and highway deaths and injuries.However, I am an optimist, in part I suppose because I am a professional historian. There have been no wars like World War II, which in 2015 will have been ended for 70 years.  Probably 60 million died in the six years of that war, more than 50 percent of whom were civilians. Despite fears of ebola, there will be no mortality from disease like the bubonic plague in the middle of the 14th century in Europe and the Middle East that killed perhaps 1 of every 3 people.   Despite Boko Haram and ISIS and Al Qaeda, there will be no human-inflicted slaughter like the Holocaust or the Killing Fields.We are making progress in feeding people and wiping out the most desperate poverty. There are realistic people who predict that in less than 20 years, virtually no one will be living on less than $1.25 a day. I have seen desperately poor children who have the chance to go to school, and they will be part of the answer to the great problems we face. Genius is everywhere; now we must work to make opportunity to develop genius universal.I am optimistic because everywhere I meet heroic people who are, sometimes in large and often in small ways, making a difference. I think of a woman caring for 140 orphans outside Yangon, Burma. I know a young American man who spent a year in Kenya, living in an isolated spot, teaching children at no salary at all. I think of my friend Mary Derby in Geneseo, who would not take “no” for an answer from anyone if people with mental disabilities were not given their full complements of rights and the highest levels of care. I have a son who is a New York State Trooper who has helped to lock up a lot of bad guys doing bad things to fellow citizens.When I hold a charity dinner each year for abandoned and homeless kids in New York, I remind donors that all of our efforts will have no impact on the statistics of teen abandonment and homelessness. Yet, for a couple of kids our gifts make the difference between life and death. Making the world better is not easy, and most of us have no power to effect broad change. But we can change ourselves and work to make life a bit better for someone else. A billion of us worldwide or a few thousand of us in Livingston County can make quiet, profound differences.


Blogger Lee said...

We have to...the media has to...keep promoting, loudly, clearly and very, very often...all that is good in the world. Let it drown out all that is bad...all the bad that is going on and will continue to go on.

Good has to over-ride the bad, and we have to keep having it spread wide and far...for all to see and hear. Let's drown out all the evil and the evil-doers...let's stop giving them oxygen.

6:16 PM  

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