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IS THE WORLD GETTING BETTER OR WORSE?April 16, 2019 April 16, 2019
Imagine waking up tomorrow morning to the sound of sirens blazing outside your house. As your eyes crack open, you can see the pulsating red lights from the government emergency vehicle glaring at you through the curtains. You don’t know it at the time, but the outcome of this day could change the course of history. Fast forward an hour, and you’re being ushered into a room with national and military leaders from the U.S. and partner nations. You sit at a table with a thin red folder in front of you. Eerie silence falls across the room as the speaker approaches a podium.
“Ladies and gentlemen… open the packets set before you immediately and examine the contents. Everything you need to know about the issue at hand will be in there. I’ll give you 20 minutes. After that, we will decide whether or not to go to war.”
You rip open the packet and spread the contents wide. Not as much information as you probably would expect… in fact, there’s only 2 pages in there. I read headlines about President X commanding his ships into foreign territory: an act of war. I read other headlines about unprecedented peace in those same seas. There’s a speech from President X here as well, but bits and pieces are redacted. Time is running out, and you’re left with a million questions.
Now, clearly this would never happen… but imagine what would happen if global decisions were made based on bad or incomplete information? Or even decisions that will plot the future trajectory of your business. Or information that impacts your family or life goals. Though the scale is exaggerated here, the premise is thought-provoking. If we have a worldview problem, we will view the world through tainted lenses. And when we do this, it can impact our lives more than we think.
Upgrade your Worldview
I came across a fascinating book called Factfulness by Hans Rosling in which he discusses why many people misinterpret what’s going on in the world. Often times, our worldviews need to be upgraded. The old yet prevailing worldview is overdramatic, which is stressful and misleading. It’s probably why nearly every generation in the church to date has thought they were the last generation of the end times. Even the disciples thought this. In Matthew 24, they asked Jesus what sign they should look for when He would return again.
Jesus answers this singular question with many signs that have happened in every generation to date (deception, wars, earthquakes, etc.). Naturally people could read this and think, It’s right around the corner!
But Jesus also said that the joyful Kingdom of Heaven would be declared to every nation and tribe—that while evil would expand, so would Heaven on earth.
So when we have an inherently negative worldview, we’re only thinking about the evil that’s expanding, and we like to tell everyone about it. “Did you hear the news? Another war! Poverty is increasing! Someone else died today!” It’s rooted in fear, not love.
Practical Tools to Provide Clarity
Why do we believe it? There are many reasons. In an age of rapidly expanding technology, it takes less effort and attention span to make swift conclusions based on a subset of facts. You might not have all the facts, but it’s easier to believe what’s put in front of you, especially if it fits into your belief system. If that information is misleading or factually incorrect, imagine how damaging this could be.
But when we recognize that a single perspective can limit your imagination, you are more likely to look at an issue from multiple angles to find practical solutions. When you test your ideas, you will collect samples from people who disagree with you instead of searching only for news that fits your beliefs. The truth may be somewhere in the middle.
When a person hears the same problem too often—whether truth or fiction—they will often exaggerate the importance and severity of that problem (i.e. hearing the same problem on the news day after day). They may see evidence that is inflated or manipulative. If you’re looking at a statistic, for example, look for numbers from a variety of fields and sources, and look for more details on that statistic, especially if it’s scary.
Be aware that fear sells and gets ratings up. After watching a 30-minute segment covering plane crashes over the last 20 years, you could develop a fear of flying. After watching this, Internet and news filters will select other scary stories for you through their algorithms. The world seems even scarier now. But it helps to put things in perspective.
As I researched this, the first 10 articles I saw were negative. “Fatalities from plane crashes are on the rise!” But the more I read, the less negative this appeared… for example, only 13 people died in 2017 from plane crashes, which is less than .06% of people who flew that year. Further, an uptick in casualties didn’t mean more planes crashed in 2018; it meant that a larger plane crashed that was carrying more people. And they all happened in foreign countries on lesser-known airlines. Flying to your destination is actually safer than driving a car, yet fear is perpetuated in scary headlines meant to keep you in fear and keep coming back for more.
Looking outside of the box will help you overcome this bias. Understand that bad news sells and is much more likely to reach you than good news. Regardless of the reason behind it (getting more viewers, advancing a political agenda, etc.), the truth is that a situation can be bad and can be improving at the same time. When a trend gradually improves, we’re less likely to notice it. Further, technology allows us to surveil news like never before. More bad news shown does not mean more bad events are happening.
Do a search for good news stories; they’re out there! Get things in proportion and know that the truth is often less scary than we know. Understand majorities—the majority of people in the world are in the Middle class, not in poverty. Most girls go to school, most families go on vacation, and more nationalities are being widely accepted into society than ever before. Understand comparisons—is the government really getting worse? Esther was living under a king who planned to commit genocide; Daniel was working under a king who consistently committed acts of terrorism.
I highly recommend reading even a simple outline of more tools you can use to get the right lens on world events based on Factfulness.
Why Should You Care?
If you’re not clear on what’s going on, it’s difficult to invest your time, talent, and treasure properly. If you have the right lenses, you’ll connect it to what’s going on in the world and declare the right message, which creates an atmosphere everyone is able to press into.
Now your wisdom is increasing because you have a Kingdom perspective. You know that sin costs the world $9.5 trillion (black markets, war debt, trafficking, etc.). It only takes $950 billion to meet every need in the world. The good news is that there’s enough resources in the world to meet every need, and it would only require that we take back a mere 10% from darkness.
If you see every darkness as an opportunity to get involved because light always prevails, dreams will take form. If you say, “Wow there’s all this pollution in the world… so how can we provide clean water?” you’re starting to ask the right questions.
When your worldview reflects the Kingdom of Heaven, it will change how you invest your time, talent, and treasure.
How do you steward this worldview so the next generation will have a better world when we leave?
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