The Safest Time In History / by Kenneth Buff

I'm a big news guy. I read it, I listen to it, and some days watch it. Just little spurts here and there. NPR in the car, the Huffington post in the mornings on my phone while I eat breakfast, Nightly News in the evening before dinner. It's part of the routine, and it's a productive way to fill those minutes in between other blocks of the day. Usually I enjoy these little moments of information. Finding out what's going on in Congress and around the world helps me to feel less angry, because at the very least I understand the motives and the events that led up to the current events, which helps things feel less out of control. In other words, it helps me feel like a member of society, instead of some loan cog, sitting motionless around spinning wheels. But lately it's been hard to not feel discouraged. ISIS, mass shootings, the BrEXIT, and Donald Trump are all anyone seems to be talking about these days. And when this is all the stuff you hear, it begins to feel that we must be living in a terrible world indeed. It's in those moments that I have to remind myself that we live in the safest time in history. Humans existing today have the highest life expectancy of any humans ever in the history of the world. Our chances of being murdered, of dying of disease, of being killed by another human being in any way (including terrorist attacks) are the smallest they have ever been in history. It's a great time to be alive.

So if that's the case (which it is), then why doesn't it feel that way? Why does the television (radio/newspaper/cell phone) fill us with fear? Because that's what they choose to focus on. That whole news idiom, if it bleeds, it leads, is undeniably true. Talk to anyone in the business and they'll confirm it. Hell, flip on the news and confirm it for yourself, it won't take you long to notice the pattern. So, why does the news choose to lead with bleeding? Simple. It grabs our attention. Showing graphs of the historic peace on Earth isn't as gripping as a plane going down across the planet, or a train falling off the tracks. Now, should those things be news? Sure, but should they be hammered over our head and spun into a greater threat than they really are? Of course not, but that's just what happens every time any disaster happens. The anchor takes it home, makes it personal by asking some expert what the odds are of it happening to us, and then asks us to think of the families, et cetera, et cetera. Yes, people dying is tragic, we should do our best to improve technology and culture so that it happens less (Which we are always doing. Progress has proven to be inevitable), but filling ourselves with fear over things that are very unlikely to happen does nothing to better ourselves or our society. It clouds our judgment by skewing our perspective of the world.

I don't believe that because we've hit a historic high for human safety that we should stop, and nor do I believe we ever will (As I said, progress has proven to be stubbornly persistent), but we need to keep things in perspective. For every 8 deaths there are 19 births. Life is winning out. So instead of turtling up, or getting stress headaches over the world supposedly going up in flames, just remember, that you live in the safest time in history, and that's a great thing.