Feature

These are the best of times

You may not have heard, said Charles Kenny in Foreign Policy, but the greatest decade in human history is now drawing to a close.

Charles KennyForeign Policy

You may not have heard, said Charles Kenny, but the greatest decade in human history is now drawing to a close. True, the first 10 years of the 21st century featured several bloody wars, an earthquake in Haiti, a hurricane in New Orleans, and a worldwide recession—not to mention the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil. But in the “Naughty Aughties,” the planet’s 6 billion residents “lived better, longer, more peaceful, and more prosperous lives than ever before.”

Global financial crisis notwithstanding, human beings today earn more than they ever have. Education and literacy levels rose, while war, poverty, and disease declined. As more people—especially women—have become better educated, child mortality has dropped and life expectancy has increased. Even “dark spots,” such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic and our “malignant” destruction of the environment, no longer seem so hopeless, thanks to a decade of technological and scientific advances.

Thanks to technology, however, we have become enveloped in a web of media, which enables us to “witness the tragedy of millions” every time some terrible misfortune occurs. That’s why there’s such a widespread, gloomy view of a truly golden era.

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