Is the world going to end?

Is the world going to end?

I know…not exactly the most hilarious, side-splitting way to open a conversation or a comedy show, for that matter. Ah, remember the good old days when we used to do comedy shows??? 

Relax, Chicken Little.  I bring some good news, even as I write this after a see-saw US election that still hasn’t been completely resolved.  This good news comes in the form of two amazing books that coaxed me out from underneath my comforter and back into the real world. 

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress by Canadian psychologist Steven Pinker, and Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About The World – And Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Swedish physician and statistician Hans Rosling. Both books are really uplifting and perfect for the challenging times that we are going through.

Maybe it’s all fake news?

I don’t think so. These books are based upon facts. Remember when we used to care about facts? Also, each book comes with a heavy hitter list of endorsements including two people you might have heard of.

Factfulness 

‘A hopeful book about the potential for human progress when we work off facts rather than our inherent biases.’

~Barack Obama

Enlightenment Now 

‘My new favorite book of all time.’ 

~Bill Gates

I’m no Barack Obama or Bill Gates, but my Goldendoodle Barnie thinks I’m pretty swell. 

I give 10/10 to both books, too!

Okay, great, so Barnie loves you. What are some takeaways from Factfulness?

Facts! Lots of good facts!

-In the past 20 years, extreme poverty has been cut in half.

-60 percent of girls in low-income countries finish public school.

-80 percent of 1 year-olds in the world have been vaccinated against certain types of disease. 

What are some takeaways from Enlightenment Now

Again, lots of solid facts. For example, we are fighting world famine.

In 1973, just forty-seven years ago, one-third of the world was malnourished.

Today, because of advances in science and agriculture, that percentage is down to 13 percent and scientists are working to bring that statistic down even further.

Did you know that just 150 years ago, people starved to death in Sweden because winter was so long? In 1820, 90 percent of the world lived in extreme poverty, but trade encouraged countries to put differences aside. 

Globally, there is more wealth and less inequality.

Globalization and technology are helping more countries get wealthier. 

The wealthier a country is, the more likely it is to spend on social programs.

The wealthier a country is, the more unlikely it is to be influenced by militant groups.

What about climate change?

Both books state that developments in science and technology are pushing us to get our carbon dioxide emissions cut in half by 2050 and eliminated by 2100.  

What about the current political climate – especially, you know where?

Political ‘glitches’ happen every now and then throughout history but hopefully, a growing number of young, educated, more tolerant voters will help make the world a better place in the future. It may not be happening fast enough for most of us who couldn’t peel ourselves away from the TV set on November 3rd, but the demographics are changing. 

What about Covid?

Oh yeah, that. Well, researchers are working around the globe and the clock. 

As a planet, we have faced many challenges in the past, including war, disease, natural disasters, and political upheavals, just to name a few.  But as the facts have shown us over and over again (see my last blog Humankind by Rutger Bregman) the worst actually brings out the best in most humans. It’s better to bet with clan than against it. Sometimes, when things get really, really dark, we laugh with the clan. It helps to stop us from freezing in fear and it keeps us moving forward. We laugh, we learn, we overcome, we do better. 

Until we discover a vaccine for Covid, continue practicing the three W’s:

-Wash your hands 

-Watch your distance 

-Shop at Walmart 

Sorry …

-Wear a mask 

And don’t forget to laugh.John Cleese and Judy Croon I had the pleasure of working with Monty Python’ John Cleese a few years back. The man is brilliant and obviously hysterical. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from him:

Laughter connects you with people. It’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of distance or any sense of social hierarchy when you’re just howling with laughter. Laughter is a force for democracy.’

Until next month,
Judy-Croon-laugh-long-pro$per-sig

Covid- Keep Calm and Carry On – Part 2

Covid- Keep Calm and Carry On – Part 2

Humankind by Rutger Bregman: Part Two

A few more examples to show you just how awesome humans really are.

Covid, the economy, the un-presidential debate, Tiger King’s Carole Baskin competing on Dancing With The Stars – there is certainly a lot of frightening news lately. Are things just getting worse??  Last month, I reviewed the book Humankind by Rutger Bregman.  It gave me hope. Bregman provided examples throughout history that proved the awesomeness of humans in times of distress. If you’ve got six and a half months of Zoom, mask, and sanitizer burn-out, perhaps a few more of the author’s stories will help lift your spirits.

During grade school, you were probably asked to read William Golding’s Lord of The Flies. It is the story about a group of boys stranded on an island.  Over a period of time, they end up turning on each other and supposedly displaying the worst of mankind.

Bregman actually found a real-life Lord of the Flies example in 1966. Six schoolboys from the island of Tonga stole a boat and became shipwrecked on a remote Pacific island for 15 months.  Unlike, Lord of The Flies, they did not turn on each other. Instead, they built fires, shared food and they made a pact not to argue. After the rescue, they remained friends for years.

Bregman cites another example of camaraderie over conquest from the first world war, when English and German soldiers defied orders and stopped fighting on Christmas Day. From the trenches, the two sides drank, sang Christmas Carols and exchanged gifts instead of gunfire. Even after they were forced to resume battle, the rival soldiers sent each other secret messages regarding attacks and/or they fired above the enemy lines so as not to cause death or injury.

Contrary to what action movies seem to depict, taking a human life is not easy or natural. Bregman provides a statistic from the Battle of Waterloo. Less than one percent of the injuries inflicted during that battle were injuries from bayonets. This is phenomenal considering that bayonets were attached to tens of thousands of rifles. Bregman says that, even in the face of life-or-death situations, humans avoid violence whenever possible.

Yes, there has been and will continue to be dark glitches in history, but statistics show that it is not the norm to react like barbarians. Humans have stepped up and risked their lives to prove over and over again that no, it is not survival of the fittest.   In many cases and as Bregman states, it is survival of the friendliest. It is part of our caveman brain and instinct to want to be part of the clan, not against it.

So, take a deep breath, take the bone out of your hair and smile. If history provides any indication, we are still pretty darn amazing as a race. The majority of us will summon our better sides to get through these challenging pages of the calendar.

Until next time,

Judy-Croon-laugh-long-pro$per-sig-logo

Covid – Keep Calm and Carry On

Covid – Keep Calm and Carry On

Recently, I read a terrific book – Humankind by Rutger Bregman.

Bregman asked, ‘What did Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt have in common?’

They all read a book called The Psychology of the Masses by French author Gustave Le Bon. Le Bon’s main premise is that when all hell breaks loose, humans turn into barbarians. We turn on each other. Chaos is created and as a result, an enemy’s attack is made easier. The flames of fear are good for the oppressor.

Though this ‘survival- of- the- fittest’ mentality may be the case for a small percentage of people, Bregman gives numerous examples throughout history that prove the contrary. His stories and statistics prove that overall, the kids are alright – humans are pretty darn amazing.

Bregman provides the example of the bombing of England during the second World War.

In 1940, Hitler sent 348 Luftwaffe bombers to London. He probably hoped panic and chaos would make the English more vulnerable and easier to overthrow.  British authorities worried as well. In anticipation of the panic that war with Germany would create, British authorities built emergency psychiatric wards throughout the country.

Yes, as expected, the bombings were horrific.  London alone suffered 40,000 casualties.

However, the psychiatric wards for the most part remained empty.

Churchill encouraged the Brits to ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’. The English tried to live their lives as normally as possible.  The trains continued to run. People shopped. Kids played.

In fact, some people reported feeling psychologically better off than before the bombings started. Suicide rates were down and alcohol abuse decreased.

Why this ‘strange’ reaction in the face of death and fear? As it turned out, average civilians helped each other like they never had before.  Hitler’s bombs had the opposite effect – they brought people closer together. Chaos was replaced with camaraderie. Similarly, Bregman describes how so many ‘hardened’ New Yorkers risked their lives to save strangers during that horrific morning of Sept 11th, 2001.

Throughout the ages, contrary to what warlords, dictators and autocrats have and continue to hope for, the worst actually brings out the best in most of us. It is instinctive to choose good. It is safer to be with the clan than against it.

If you need further proof, consider these statistics. According to 700 separate field studies at The Disaster Research Centre in Delaware, the number of murders, thefts and rapes actually decrease in the wake of catastrophe.

So why do we always think the sky is falling?

Fear sells. Left- and right-wing media giants are both guilty.

Bad news is big business.

So, what should we do as we face our recent global ‘attack‘, Covid 19?

Perhaps we should continue to exercise caution, listen to the scientists and, every now and then (and trust me, I’m guilty of this too), turn off CNN. Bye- bye Anderson Cooper.

Keep Calm and Carry On and hey, it doesn’t hurt to crack a smile every now and then.

Until next time, laugh long and prosper.

Judy-Croon-laugh-long-pro$per-sig-logo

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