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New Year's Thoughts

Dear Friends, Happy New Year. That is what we all say.  Some people wish one another Happy New Year because they assume  that things are looking up as we turn the page on the calendar. We have a clean slate. We have a re-boot. We have a chance to try again on the things that did not work out so well last year. “Happy New Year” also carries with it the assumption that the world is making a new beginning. This year will be better than the last.  I share that hope, but I learned this week that  the world has been steadily improving for generations now, in ways we often overlook, or fail to notice. Last Sunday in the New York Times Nicholas Kristoff wrote an article entitled, “This Has Been the Best Year Ever (Again)” He writes for everyone who is depressed by the state of the world or who questions whether we are making any progress at all as a human civilization.  In the history of humans last year less children than ever died of disease. Historically, almost half of human beings died in childhood. As recently as 1950 27% of people died  by the time they were 15. Now the number of people who die in childhood has diminished to 4%. Diseases like polio, leprosy and river blindness are in  sharp decline and by working together with people around the world have turned the tide on AIDS. We have made big strides in education too. 90% of the world’s population can read and girls education which lagged behind boys’ has made real strides. Literacy is connected with well-being  so as poverty declines literacy improves. As recently as 1981 42% of people in the world endured extreme poverty, living on less than $10 a day. But every day in 2019 325,000 people got electricity for the first time and another 200,000 people gained access to piped water. It is inspiring to see how passionate young people are about improving the environment, building bridges between folks of every race and nation. Young people lead the rest of us in accepting people of other religions, and gender orientation. So when we look to the next generation we find a bedrock hopefulness that envisions a world where all people live in peace. Is there a lot of work to do? You bet. Is the world perfect? No way. But the trends are surprisingly hopeful and that is something to celebrate.  Happy New Year. If you want to read Kristoff’s article here is the link: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/28/opinion/sunday/2019-best-year-poverty.html

 Blessings,  Rev. Susan

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