Despite what we see and hear in the news, life is better than it has ever been. We live longer than ever before, and we reside in the most peaceful and prosperous time in our species' history.
According to the World Health Organization, global life expectancy remained unchanged at 30 years old from prehistoric times until 1900. However, global life expectancy has more than doubled to over 70 years old over the last century. In prehistoric times, approximately 15% of humans died violent deaths; and although the 20th century was the most brutal period in recent history, less than 1% of the world population died in war or by other violent means.
Notably, wartime deaths have been less than 0.001% of the world population for over 30 years. In prehistoric times, humans lived hand to mouth. According to the World Bank, the percentage humans living in extreme poverty dropped steadily from 85% in 1820 to 15% in 2015 , despite a seven-fold increase in population.
People suffer and die from war, violence, accidents and illness. Each day a billion people on earth do not receive enough food. As we continue to root out and end suffering in all of its forms, today I am simply grateful to live in a golden era of human existence. Let's keep up the good work.
Committee on Peace and Social Concerns
Williamsburg Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends