I wonder do you feel that the world is in general getting worse, better or is everything staying about the same? Have a go at the following questions (taken from the book ‘factfulness’ by Hans Rosling):
1.Worldwide 30 year old men have spent 10 years in school, but how many years is it for the average woman?
Is it: A 9 Years, B 6 years, or C 3 Years?
2.Where does the majority of the world population live?
Is it: A Low income countries, B Middle Income Countries, or C High Income Countries?
3.In the last 20 years how has the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty changed?
Has it: A Almost Doubled, B Remained roughly the same, or C Halved?
4.What is the life expectancy of the world today?
Is it: A 50 Years B 60 Years, or C 70 Years?
5.The UN predicts that by 2100 the world population will have increased by another 4 billion people.
Will it be mainly because: A There will be more children, B More Adults, or C More Older People?
6.How did the number of deaths per year from natural disasters change over the last 100 years?
Has it: A More than doubled, B Remained about the Same, or C Decreased by around a half?
7.In 1996 tigers, giant pandas and black rhinos were all listed as endangered. How many is it today?
Is it: A Two, B three, or C one?
8.How many people have access to electricity across the world?
Is it: A 20%, B 50%, C 80%?
9.Is the world getting to be a more or less violent place?
Is it: A More, B The Same or C Less?
10.How do Global experts believe that over the next 100 years average temperatures will change?
Will it: A Get Warmer B Remain the Same, or C Get Colder?
[The answers are: Q1 A, Q2 B, Q3 C, Q4 C, Q5 B, Q6 C, Q7 A, Q8 C, Q9 C, Q10 A]
If you believe these answers, based on scientific/statistical evidence not just what we feel, the world on many measures is actually much better than we think or not as bad as we think!
Why the difference between what we feel and is actually the case?:
-in the media we are constantly fed the negative without any context or reference to the positive…good news is no news as they say, and only bad news is news!
-from our human nature we tend to be overfully fearful and live by our natural instinct of self-preservation
-we get focused on specific instances rather the average of what is happening
All of this is really important because there are some really serious things to be addressing in the world, but if we are not careful we can be paralysed into not doing anything ‘believing’ the situation is so bad it is hopeless ….but it isn’t, and there is much we can each do!
Our approach should be and needs to be what Jesus taught and as we pray in the Lord’s prayer ‘your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’.
In summary what I am saying is that the Christian perspective is to always speak and act in hope…..to be what I call a ‘Realistic Pessimistic Optimist’ about the world and life! Yes people are fallen, yes people are in trouble and yes there is much pain going on in the world, but we need to believe and act on what Jesus said:
The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” And “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6v29, 35
Just as Jesus brought spiritual and practical help into the world so we are called to do the same.
My prayer for us in these turbulent times when we might easily give up, is to be people who have hope ourselves and who will give hope to those around us.
With my prayers for July
Revd James Hunt – Rector St Peter’s Bishop’s Waltham and Blessed Mary, Upham
11th June 2022