I am a morning-person. I wake up bright and cheery, much to the chagrin of my evening-person partner. I am also an old-school newspaper reader, as is she, so my first task of the day-even before the tea and coffee get turned on- is to grab the morning New York Times off our porch and divvy up the sections.
We read and react to various stories that catch our attention, and by the time we rise from the table for work, I notice my morning-person delight has taken a nasty detour toward the dark shadows of despair.
2018 seemed particularly grim. World temperatures rising faster than predicted and rapidly rising numbers of refugees fleeing war-torn and oppressive governments, stoking fear, resentment, and oppressive public policy. The list of wars, lying/spying governments, and school shootings are too numerous to list.
And then, just after New Year's Day, I read "2018 was the best year in history" by Nicolas Kristof. What Kool-aid was he drinking?!
He reports that for every day of 2018, 305,000 people were able to access clean drinking water for the first time. 295,000 gained access to electricity for the first time. Every day, for the past 25 years, another 100,000 a day moved out of extreme poverty. We don't read this because journalism mostly covers wars, massacres and famines, not human progress. It is a true slice of life, but one cut to show us our worst selves.
It reminds me of what police life must be like, an unbalanced look at human nature, in which your nose is consistently rubbed into the ugliest stuff we do, leading to an overall sense of bitterness and a pessimism about the human condition.
Today we are celebrating Martin Luther King Jr's birth, who would have been 90 years old today. He told us that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." I am keeping this article pinned to my desk bulletin board to read every day of 2019, and to remind me that he may just be right.
Greg Tuke teaches and travels internationally, working with university faculty in India, Indonesia and the MIddle East, sharing strategies for implementing international collaborations within course work. This blog chronicles key experiences and insights about those experiences. All opinions expressed are mine, and represent no other institutional affiliation.