Sunday, February 24, 2013 | Categories: Michael's Essays
(Photo Pin / Corrine Klug)
Sometimes it seems we are all adrift on roaring seas, like Pi and his Bengal tiger, Richard Parker. Each crashing wave brings us new accounts of horrors and disasters, natural and man-made, guaranteed to make us feel the world is a terrible, dangerous place, getting worse with each passing day.
Which is why it is not surprising that one of the most common complaints about the media is the constant, steady, almost endless menu of bad news stories. No journalist worth a paycheck believes in dealing with happy-face good news stories all the time. After all, a plane landing safely is not news. But every once and a while, even the most cynical scribe longs for a reprieve from the constant doom and gloom.
Last weekend for example. A baby was born on a freezing street in Toronto and taken to a nearby hospital where it was pronounced dead. While waiting for the coroner, a cop noticed the sheet covering the baby moved slightly. He called in the doctors. The baby was indeed alive and is now stable. Notwithstanding the fact that the medical staff could do with a brush-up course on their stethoscope skills, this was indeed a good news story.
Another story, though not as dramatic as the baby saga, came this
week from the United Nations, not usually a fount of good news. Annually for the past 21 years, the UN Development Program has issued a document called the Human Development Report. The report tries to measure how the world's nations are doing economically and socially.
Canada always ranks among the highest, about sixth out of 187 countries. Usually the report is grim.
But not this year.
Called The Rise of the South, this year's version is the most upbeat and optimistic in years. For instance, China, which has replaced Japan as the world's second largest economy, is eradicating poverty for millions of its people.Turkey, Mexico and South Africa are fast becoming global economic players. In fact, more than 40 countries are doing better than anyone had expected. The report not only demonstrates that for many countries things are getting better. It also underlines a profound change in global dynamics, with growth shifting from north to south.
Good news that it was, it didn't get a lot of play in the media. Hopeful as it was, it didn't approach the rhapsodic outburst of London's Spectator Magazine at the turn of the year.
"It may not feel like it," the essay crowed,"But 2012 has been the greatest year in the history of the world." It went on to point out that people are living longer than ever, that
in the rich world economies are growing while pulling more people out
of poverty and at the same time fossil fuel consumption is falling.
So when you start to feel overwhelmed by the plethora of depressing stories, remember that there is good news out there. You just have to look for it.