I was an intern in Sen. Jake Garn’s office in 1981. That’s where I first saw and used a fax machine. I viewed it as a miracle. We’d use a typewriter, type the message we wanted to distribute, attach it to a drum on the fax machine and then hit send. Moments later, the distinct sound of a telephone modem would signal a connection and I’d watch the drum spin for almost 10 minutes as it transferred data to its intended location in far off Utah.
Now, here I sit, in the far-off future from 1981 and marvel at the life you and I live today. It’s a life that, people just under 40 years ago, would have viewed as impossible. And, for some reason, we are in a time, living a life, that often seems impossible for us to recognize as amazing by any historic standard. The food we eat is just one incredible example of such thoughtlessness.
Until the development of long-distance transportation, farming was a local business. Now, we walk through grocery stores and pantries alike to purchase and consume fresh fruits and vegetables grown, in season, on the other side of the planet for our consumption in the dead of winter. And, this food has fed more than bodies alone. It has created new businesses in parts of our world that were previously “undeveloped.” As a result, by 2015, the United Nations reported global malnutrition had declined to the “the lowest level in history.”
Here are other optimistic facts that Gregg Easterbrook unveiled to me recently. Disease rates are in “long-term decline” and longevity is the highest ever. “US industrial output is at an ‘all-time record.’” Inflation has been “low for a decade” and mortgage, and other borrowing costs, is at “historic lows.” Crime, “especially homicide,” is in long-term decline as well.
These are all facts that have largely gone unreported in both social and news media. So it’s easy to feel as if our way of life will soon end and to have continuous negative feelings. It has even become popular to be negative, so when I began feeling optimistic over such positive facts, I thought I’d better ask my friend James Grimm, a seasoned expert, questions to see if I was off in some way.
Grimm is a retired chief financial officer of more than two global companies, so when we were working together this week, I asked, “Have you been surprised with how quickly our economy has rebounded from 9/11 and the economic crash of 2008?”
He responded with, “Yes! It just goes to show how resilient we are as a people, not just in the United States, but also across the world. We’re accomplishing things we never dreamed as possible! Life is getting better and better.”
His response made me feel much better as it also runs against conventional wisdom. Perhaps it’s because optimism has simply gone out of style? But, there is no need for you and I to let optimism disappear from our lives.
As you read this, on your computer, a freshly printed paper, or on a pad, stop for one moment and let the miraculous mechanism you’re reading it on signal optimism to your brain. Then say, “I live in a far-off intended future where miracles occur in every moment of every beautiful day!”
Lynn Butterfield lives in Erda and is a managing broker for a real estate company.