Recently, there has been terrorist attacks in Paris, Baghdad, Beirut, Fotokol, Bamako and other cities around the world.
Here in the US, there seems to be a surge of debates about racism, in light of police shootings happening in a some cities around the country.
In light of such negative events and subsequent negativity flooding my Facebook timeline, I thought it’d be àpropos to write this post and do my part to try to restore some level of hope in the hearts of the masses.
I am an artist. For a living, I host painting events at local bars in the Washington DC area. The events are called Paint Nite (They are AWESOME events in case you haven’t been yet).
Every few nights during the week, I go into a bar/restaurant and I lead a group of novice painters through a pre-selected painting, while enjoying one or two beverages.
The point of these events, more so than the artistic aspect of it, is for all the guests to have a good time. Most of the time, our guests at the events, get the concept. They understand they are there to have a good time. So they come in, do the best they can to follow instructions, but focus most of their energy into having a good time. These guests usually leave happy.
Every once in a while however, I get another category of guests. These guests expect to create flawless works of art, even though most of the guest who attend our events have not created any works of art in YEARS! Some guests have NEVER painted before and yet, they expect to leave the events with flawless works of art.
When that doesn’t happen, these guests tend to think they’re not a good artist. Thoughts like those are utterly false. Some artist are naturally more talented than others. However, regardless of your talent level, art takes time to learn & master.
We all fall victim to this kind of attitude every once in a while. We get tunnel vision, focus on the here and now, and we forget to look at the bigger picture.
Too many of us fall victim to “the here and now” when it comes to terrorism, racism or other negative events. Allow me to put some of these recent events into some perspective.
First, let’s talk about the terrorist attacks.
One of the hot topics that has followed the recent terrorist attacks has been the issue of immigration. More specifically, if the US should allow Syrian refugees into its territories.
There are many people on both sides of the argument. Some say it’s un-American not to allow refugees in. Some are afraid to allow any refugee in the country because they believe some refugees might be terrorists.
I’m not here to argue about who is right or wrong on this subject. I’m here to put these recent terrorist attacks into some perspective.
Whether your opinion was shaped by fear or not, here are some facts that might make you optimistic about not just the future.
I recently read a post from Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook Founder and CEO). In the post, he said: “… violence is actually at an all-time low in history and continues to decline. Deaths from war are lower than ever, murder rates are generally dropping around the world, and — although it’s hard to believe — even terrorist attacks are declining”.
I’d consider Mark Zuckerberg to be a reliable source. It never hurts to double check however, so I did some research.
According to www.ourworlddata.org, though terrorist incidents peaked in 2006, they have been declining sharply since.
Overall, homicides worldwide are also dropping according to www.ourworlddata.org, since the 1900’s. Though it may not seem like it, violent incidents are on the decline worldwide.
Now, let’s talk about racism.
One of the rhetoric I have heard from some people is that NOTHING has changed since the Civil Right Movement. I’ve heard a few individuals say that the same rampant racism that existed in the 40’s and 50’s still exists today.
I am appalled when I hear such statements. Statements like these are not only untrue but they completely dismiss any progress we have made so far as a society.
How can anyone say that?
Up until the 1800’s black people counted as 3/5th of a person. 3/5th! Today, we count as ONE whole person. Is that not progress?
In the early 1900’s, a black president of the USA was more than likely thought of as UNTHINKABLE. Today, we have a black president who is currently serving in his second term in office. Is that not progress?
In the 1950’s, there were segregated bathrooms, water fountains, pools etc… for blacks and whites. Today, we all drink from the same fountains, pee in the same bathrooms, swim in the same pools. Is this not progress?
We’re only just beginning our journey
If the two sets of facts listed above did not convince you that we have made at least some progress, then maybe this next fact can sway your opinion.
I recently watched a www.sciencealert.com video.
The video compared the time the earth has been in existence (4.54 billion years), to the distance between (LA) Los Angeles and (NYC) New York City (2450 miles).
According to this video, early humans began “crafting cutting tools” ONE mile away from NYC.
So, for the first 2049 miles, there was NO human on earth.
Modern human evolved 570 feet away from NYC. The beginning of recorded human history did not happen until about 15.7 feet. That is 15.7 out of 2450 miles it took for us to be where we are today. How small do you feel right about now?
Another source condensed the history of earth into 1 year.
In this example, humans have only been on earth for ONE hour. So, for the first 11 months, 3 weeks, 6 days and 23 hours, humans did not exist on earth.
These two comparisons remind me of those few guests at my event who expect to create masterpieces after their first time painting in years.
Nature has been hard at work for the past few BILLION years trying to perfect the creatures of earth.
After billions of years of hard work and evolution, there still isn’t a single perfect creature on this planet. Somehow, after only a few thousands of years of being on this earth, some of us expect ourselves to be there already.
We expect to be perfect. We expect ourselves to be rid of illnesses, racism, crimes, terrorism and other ills that plague humanity.
How realistic is that?
People who expect us to “be there already” are no different than guests at my events who expect flawless works of art in their first ever attempt at art.
Picasso was as close to perfection as it gets as an artist. Even he, was not made in a day or an hour.
It’s all about perspectives
Let’s be clear, I am in no way suggesting that we should lower our expectations of ourselves.
High expectations drive progress. I believe in always striving to better oneself.
However, one of the major parts of the pursuit of betterment is understanding how far we’ve come.
Thinking the world is coming to an end soon is NOT a realistic view of the world and does NOT lead to progress. Those kinds of thoughts lead to irrational thoughts and decisions. Whenever we feel overwhelmed by world events, it’s always important to take a deep breath and look back on any progress we have made either as a species or as individuals.
When tragedies occur, it’s always important to put them in perspective so we can understand them better and thus react better to them. Looking back on progress usually leads to a better understanding of the bigger picture, and thus leads to better decisions for the future.
So, next time you think to yourself that the world is on fire and is about to come crashing down, please don’t run to your friends/family to tell about the world falling apart. It’s probably NOT. The world is in a better place today than it ever has been despite most of what you’re hearing/seeing on TV or your Facebook timeline.
One might have to do some research to realize how much progress we have made, but the progress is there.
Every once in a while, we get caught up in the moment and forget to look at the bigger picture. The bigger picture is BRIGHT, and it’ll only get brighter. That alone, is something to be hopeful for!