A recent CNN news bulletin reported positive trends in the following U.S. social wellness measures —
• high school dropout rates
• college enrollment
• juvenile crime
• drunken driving
• traffic deaths
• infant mortality
• life expectancy
• per capita gasoline consumption
• workplace injuries
• air pollution
• male-female wage equality
• charitable giving
• voter turnout
• per capita GDP
• teen pregnancy
For the most part these measures of social wellness show 20%+ improvements over the past 20 years. The conclusion – today we live longer and healthier lives within more stable families and communities. Even more noteworthy, most of us are unaware of these positive social changes, particularly if we count on the news media to keep us informed.
The violent crime rate (crimes per thousand people) dropped from 51 to 15 between
1995 and 2010, truly one of the most inspiring stories of societal progress in our
lifetime. And yet according to a series of Gallup polls conducted over the past 10
years, more than two-thirds of Americans believe that crime has been getting worse,
year after year. Steven Johnson
On the occasion that I might watch the evening news before bedtime (which is rare because of its negative distortion), a typical wrap up to this 30-minute ‘nightmare’ is one positive story followed by “And that’s the day it’s been.” Well truthfully speaking, that is not the day it has been!
There are many, many wonderful adventures and ordinary heroic activities happening everyday across the globe. One that I am particularly excited to hear about is a local collaboration among social agencies, governments and citizens to end homelessness. Homelessness did not make this list of improving social indicators because it is growing rather than declining. Nonetheless, the list is proof that when we focus our strengths and positive energy on desirable outcomes, we change the world in that direction. I have absolute faith that dedicated, compassionate efforts will alter the homelessness growth curve as well.
I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the
direction of her dreams, and endeavours to live the life which she has imagined,
she will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. She will put some
things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal
laws will begin to establish themselves around and within her; or the old laws
will be expanded, and interpreted in her favour in a more liberal sense, and she
will live with the license of a higher order of beings. Henry David Thoreau
Fortunately, I am not alone in my belief that our thoughts and words create our reality. I do not hold the news media solely responsible for selling violence, crime and destruction. Their commercialization is in response to what the audience will purchase. The news media believe we want to hear it. Let’s prove them wrong. Like Thoreau’s perspective, it is the responsibility of everyone to reframe negativity and limitation into positive thoughts, words and deeds.
With the advent of the internet, every day acts of heroic kindness are very accessible. Here’s one the news media missed.
What inspirational awareness or stories of progress can you share with others to celebrate our human strengths?
And that’s the life it is, REALLY.