While we can find much to worry about in this world, there is also much to be celebrated. And, when we focus our attention on what we would like to see, rather than what we don't like, we are in a better position to take action to help create a better world for all. A recent New York Times opinion piece by columnist Nicholas Kristof, highlights several ways in which the world is the best it has ever been in our recorded history. Citing gains in adult literacy and access to clean water, and steep declines in childhood deaths and extreme poverty, Kristof makes the case that we have made great strides, so have reason to be optimistic about what humankind can do in the near future.
But this is not a Pollyanna-ish view of the world. In this opinion piece, Kristof quotes Max Roser, an Oxford University economist who runs the Our World in Data website: “We are some of the first people in history who have found ways to make progress against these problems. We have changed the world. How awesome is it to be alive at a time like this?”
“Three things are true at the same time. The world is much better, the world is awful, the world can be much better.”
Which brings me to this. Wisdom teachers from around the globe have been bringing their ancient knowledge to the general public with increasing frequency over the past 50 years, many of whom I have had the pleasure to learn from in person over the past decade. Their common mission is to spread the idea that we are living in times of great challenge, AND great opportunity. Across these traditions, the message is that each one of us has the power to help birth a new, beautiful, peace-filled world. We can do this through right living (e.g., being compassionate, empathetic, inclusive), through right acts (e.g., showing kindness towards all whom we encounter, using our words mindfully), and by holding a vision of a better world in our meditations.
When we can get into that small, still, silent space – the aspect of consciousness that is not projected onto by our day-to-day thoughts and mind chatter – we can cultivate the peace, trust, and openness that flows through us all the time. When we begin to approach life from this space, then we are best able to assist everyone and everything on this planet. And we can do this knowing that there are millions of others, around the world, who are working on the same thing. Together, we can help bring into being a bright, beautiful future for all.