As we start taking in all those end-of-year assessments, we're likely to feel a little gloomy, because the analysts and prognosticators tend to be a pessimistic lot. As an antidode:
It may not feel like it, but 2012 has been the greatest year in the history of the world. That sounds like an extravagant claim, but it is borne out by evidence. Never has there been less hunger, less disease or more prosperity. The West remains in the economic doldrums, but most developing countries are charging ahead, and people are being lifted out of poverty at the fastest rate ever recorded. The death toll inflicted by war and natural disasters is also mercifully low. We are living in a golden age.
This reminds me of an article I saw in the Reader's Digest in my sister's bathroom several months ago (it was one of my mother's favorite publications) called "17 reasons it's a great time to be alive" by science writer Matt Ridley. Things cost less today, the environment is improving, increasing farm production is saving more wilderness, oil is not running out, etc. etc. And, brethren and sistren, "the good old days" really weren't:
Some people argue that in the past there was a simplicity, tranquillity, sociability, and spirituality that’s now been lost. This rose-tinted nostalgia is generally confined to the wealthy. It’s easier to wax elegiac for the life of a pioneer when you don’t have to use an outhouse. The biggest-ever experiment in back-to-the-land hippie lifestyle is now known as the Dark Ages.
But go ahead and be gloomy and see if I care. If you stop and think about it, even your dark moods are a good sign, because of the 18th and most obvious reason that this is a great time to be alive: If you weren't, you'd be, you know, DEAD.