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MCLEOD: Four reasons the world isn't is bad as you think

Lisa McLeod

Lisa McLeod

Do you ever feel like the world is going in the wrong direction? War, strife, poverty, and pettiness abound.

It's easy to think that humanity is going from bad to worse. But if you take a long view of human history, things are improving at a rapid rate.

Consider this, slavery existed for thousands of years. It's only the last 150 years that the majority of the world decided it was not OK. To put this into perspective, when my Dad was born 76 years ago, there were still people alive who remembered the Civil War, because it had only ended 74 years earlier. What undoubtedly felt like slow painful progress to the people who lived through that era was actually rapid, radical change.

Here are four more reasons why the world is lots better than it used to be:

• We no longer believe the moon is made of cheese.

Now, thanks to science, we not only know what the moon is made of, we've walked the surface and have the photos to prove it. Things that were once scary and mysterious are now being studied and understood.

About 379 years ago Galileo got life in prison for trying to tell the people that the earth rotated around the sun. But now, after centuries of fear-based intellectual darkness, the tides have turned. People (well, OK, most people) are no longer afraid of the unknown; they're inquisitive.

• We don't pay people to beat our kids.

School children were once expected to lay their palms out on their desk so their teacher could whack their knuckles with a wooden ruler. During my lifetime teachers belted kids for infractions like whispering in class. Can you imagine the reaction today if a teacher hit a kid?

One might argue that kids have lost respect for authority, but that's a separate issue that does not require knuckle rapping to solve. The fact that we no longer sanction public beating of our children demonstrates our improved understanding of the human spirit. Children are now viewed through the lens of their potential rather than their submissiveness.

• Your boss can't chain you to a sewing machine.

You may feel chained to your desk, but your supervisor can't keep you locked in a sweatshop for 18 hours until you finish your quota of blouses. If I were living in the 1920's I would probably be sending my teenage daughters to work in a factory when they turned 12 instead of to space camp.

It's hard to imagine Henry Ford putting his workers through a communication skills workshop. But now we actually train people and have regulations about working conditions.

• We believe in love.

Not that long ago fathers didn't tell their sons they loved them, bosses didn't tell their teams they cared, and there was no such thing as a couples workshop. You may be frustrated with the lack of caring from the people around you, but when you compare it to fifty years ago, we're all a bunch of mush buckets. We believe in love. We talk about it, we expect it, we show it and we pursue it.

Humankind still has plenty of work to do. But when you look at the arc of human history, we're definitely moving in the right direction. We invent, we create and we become kinder to each other, every single day.

Lisa Earle McLeod is author of "Selling with Noble Purpose: How to Drive Revenue and Do Work That Makes You Proud," a Wiley publication, scheduled for release Nov. 12.