There is no doubt that if you look around at the world today it can make you very sad. Death, destruction, poverty, hatred and ignorance.
Sure things are bad but they are not as bad as we think. Not even close. In fact the entire world appears to be ignorant of just how great things are in comparison to how they were.
I have written about some of this before, highlighting child mortality has dropped by 70% since 1970, even though the global population has grown by 30% in that time. 2 billion more people, 16 million less deaths of children under the age of 5. Phenomenal.
But that just scratches the surface. Over the last 100 years global incomes per person have sky rocketed and the average life span across the world has improved over the last 50 years. The average lifespan globally today is 70. Almost everything is better including the amount of people who own guitars and this is what I wanted to focus on.
There are a number of different ways to measure improvement, through income levels, life expectancy, population growth, babies born per women and culture. The last one is a little complex to measure, but music is a good place to start.
Hans Rosling (my new hero) has data on playable guitars per capita (who thinks of these things?), and back in 1962 there was 200 playable guitars for every 1 million people, in 2014 that had grown to 11,000 playable guitars for every 1 million people. The increase in income globally has allowed more people to engage in cultural activities like music, being a sign that things are improving.
Things are bad in our world, but they are a heck of a lot better than they used to be, they continue to get better, and we are not finished yet.
“You will not be satisfied until you step into a life of generosity” Jason Jaggard
I find it most difficult on Monday mornings. Not every one, but generally it’s a Monday. The day brings with it a sense of longing, questioning and searching. Is what I am doing really worthwhile? What if I am just wasting my time? What if no one else gets it? Is this really what I want to be doing for the rest of my life?
Perhaps you know these questions and the driving force behind them, which is what I would call the search for purpose. What motivates my behaviours? Why do I do what I do?
Some will suggest that we all have a calling – something specific that we are placed on this earth to do and if we don’t find what that is we can miss our calling and then ultimately miss our purpose in life.
Others think that we don’t have a specific task or calling but we are to be the best that we can be wherever we end up. It’s more about the attitude than the action.
If you spend enough time with me you will discover that I don’t go to many extremes, but I like to find somewhere in between. (Why don’t we have both?)
I think we all have certain things that we are called to do, they may turn into our vocation or they may be specific actions along the journey. At the same time the attitude is fundamental, perhaps even more important.
If we, as people are able to act out in generosity, then that attitude will take any action that we do and make it amazing.
I’ve heard it so often. From so many people. Different types of people.
Amazing, thoughtful, loving people.
Angry, selfish, arrogant people.
Some are unwilling to even contemplate a different point of view and others almost make the statement as a question. ‘Charity begins at home…doesn’t it?’.
I don’t disagree with the statement. I’ve been a proponent for international aid and development for 15 years. I think we have a huge responsibility to our world for a number of reasons. But I’m not heartless. I care about those who suffer here in Australia. I care about those who are sick, hurting, homeless and living in poverty. And so, yes, charity does begin at home. But it does not end there and it certainly doesn’t mean that we can’t provide assistance for those suffering internationally at the same time. The two are not mutually exclusive.
I often forget just how amazing life is here in Australia, just how great certain parts are. I was having a conversation with someone who migrated here over 10 years ago and when they visited their home country recently they were shocked by how unsafe they felt. Life in Australia had dulled their senses and they forgot that going about life without looking over their shoulder or trying to spot danger at every turn, isn’t normal. But it should be.
I’m not saying that every other country is unsafe, nor am I saying that Australia is perfect and nothing bad ever happens, but what we have here is a gift. A gift that we have done nothing to deserve, and one that I believe comes with a responsibility. Let’s support charity at home and everywhere else.