One of my pet peeves is how quick people are to swallow the canards peddled by the mass media, forgetting that media is a business, and that the media business gets more clicks and makes more money when their stories make you feel anxious, afraid, and upset.
While media focuses on large catastrophic events (natural disasters, wars, and so on) they ignore the larger story. And the larger story is that, by almost every measure, life is better today than it was 100 years ago.
Consider what life was like 100 years ago:
Work: Men worked much more physically demanding jobs, received lower pay, worked longer hours, and faced much more danger at work. Women had little or no access to work outside the home.
The Elderly: There was no social network, and life expectancy was much shorter. Older people often lived in extreme poverty
Food: 100 years ago, the average American spent 1/3 of his income on food, and the diet was not one we would envy today. With no refrigeration, fruits and vegetables were scarce.
Home ownership: In 1920 there were 4x as many renters as homeowners. Property was cheaper, but mortgages required 50% down, making ownership out of reach for most people.
Infant mortality: Every tenth child died before they were a year old. Today infant mortality is almost unheard of. Read more here if you’re interested:
Add to this that there were (almost) no cars, no planes, no phones, no widespread electricity or household appliances, no air conditioning, no birth control, no Novocain, no modern tampons, and no advanced medicine. Literacy rates were lower, as was life expectancy. There was real, legally enforced systemic racism throughout North America, with Jim Crow laws in full swing in the U.S.
By almost every measure, living standards have vastly improved today. And yet, people are angry and outraged. Why is this? Ignorance of the past maybe? The media focusing only on what’s bad? Other?
Those may be part of the story, but here’s an even bigger one:
Envy. Maybe I’m better off, but others are even better than me! This is why the 10 commandments forbade the original Hebrew people from coveting anything belonging to their neighbor. Because envy only hurts. There’s no upside to it.
And what’s the antidote to envy? Gratitude.
Be grateful for all you’ve inherited and haven’t earned. And work to make the world a better place to pass on to your children. Anger, even when warranted, doesn’t help.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
What selfless thing can you do to help someone around you today?
Getting ahead is about getting started.