A few weeks ago Time Magazine had an issue they called “The Optimists”, with Bill Gates as their guest editor and talking about good and encouraging things around the world. I didn’t agree with all of the facts and articles, but consider just one of the points they made, “in 1990 more than a third of the global population lived in extreme poverty; today only about a tenth do.” This is an incredible change, and one I would think we would be more aware of, and a change that would constantly give us hope for the world. Why aren’t we more aware of this change?
For myself I think one of the big reasons is because I am not really aware on a daily basis of those who live in extreme poverty (those making less than $1.90 a day). We hear of people who are billionaires and their tax concerns or how their riches changed with a stock price more often than those who are starving or those who had made it out of starvation it seems. And I think it is important to be aware of this incredible change if we want to keep it going. To understand the reasons it occurred over the last few decades, and to be sure we can keep it going in this direction. Otherwise we might change something we didn’t realize is doing so much good and is so important and affects so many people without even realizing it for some other minor reason.
I think we need to be able to look at our personal lives in a similar way. Sometimes successes can be taken for granted and we get focused on the ‘better’ things that have happened to someone else. If we aren’t conscious of the blessings God is giving us in our lives we can just start focusing on what we do not have, and might put at risk what we already do.
One way all of us have seen this in relationships at times, whether we did it or someone did it to us. We had a really good relationship that was a big part of our lives but we just took it for granted when we focused on something else, and may have seriously damaged or lost that relationship without realizing what was happening. Consider your relationship with friends, family, spouse, or God. Do we appreciate how good they are, how important they are to us? Do we take them for granted? Do we just look at a different relationship we want and don’t consider what we are changing to begin or improve this new relationship and how it might affect the ones we already have?
I guess my point is that we need to be optimists in all of our lives, and that having hope is a very Christian virtue. We realize that there is evil in the world that causes suffering and pain, but we also are always aware of God’s presence and love, for us and for everyone. As we look at the world we can fall into despair at all the tragedies we see, or be an optimist recognizing, appreciating, and working with God’s love today and for our future.