Thursday, May 25, 2006

Column on "It's Not All Bad"

It?s Not All Bad

Tibor R. Machan

For a long time I have had this important policy: After watching a half
hour of news, be it CNN, Fox, NBC, whatever, I must turn to the Travel
Channel and watch a half hour of anything on it. This will give me an
accurate, balanced view of the world?the first filled with all the misery,
the second with nothing but pleasantries.

Few of us have the luxury of being provided with a true picture of how
things are, near or far. Nearly all news programs are politicized and need
to keep their audience by scaring everyone to death, while many others
give only a rosy view so as to keep the fantasists satisfied. None can be
relied on to level with us as to just how the world is doing. It is
probably neither as bad nor as good as these outlets make it out to be.

Consider the book, While Europe Slept (Doubleday, 2006), by Bruce Bawer.
It tells some scary story?it seems that Europe is by now nearly run over
by a radical Muslim population bent on changing the place into a vision of
Islamic hegemony. Slowly but surely, Bawer predicts, Europe will become
like Iran. Its liberal traditions of an attitude of let and let live among
all is different religious and ethnic groups will be scaled back and
replaced with one where Islamic law shall rule.

Is this a likely scenario? Perhaps, but I am more of an optimist and
believe there is likely to be a slow integration of the Muslim population
so it is they who will adopt, in time, the live and let live approach,
just as they seem to have done in most of North America.

But even apart from these grand concerns, it seems to me that you and I
have a responsibility to make sure we keep a close watch on our lives and
?notice the good and praise it,? as a bumper sticker from the Seventh Day
Adventists implored us all some years back. Because in the midst of all
the bad news that the media eagerly blasts at us, there are our particular
lives that tend to be pretty darn good.

I am now getting a bit old and there is a temptation to project my
forthcoming demise upon the rest of the world but that temptation needs to
be resisted?the world has an inordinate number of fine things about it.
Your and my life and those of millions across the globe have, on average,
been improving. That is the message of the book co-authored by Stephen
Moore and the late Julian Simon, It's Getting Better All the Time: 100
Greatest Trends of the Last 100 Years (Cato Institute, 2000). The stats
evidently support their thesis and, for my money, so does a careful
inspection of our own particular circumstances.

My own kids, the three of them now in their twenties, are definitely
doing much better in their lives than I had been doing at their age. Not
perhaps in every single detail but on the whole. And I can surmise this
about most of the kids of most of my friends. Sure, they face some serious
challenges, mostly from the stupidity of their fellow human beings, those
millions who would readily hand over the running of their lives to
government (in part because they have become panicky about the
world?global warming, bird flue, immigration, outsourcing, and who knows
what else), as if those ?up there? had some serious good answers to it all
and could regiment us to fall in line for our own good. But with some
serious attention on what matters in their lives, they may well
successfully manage or fend off these challenges, pacify their stupid
fellows, and make advances roughly along lines their parents managed to
make on most fronts.

Certainly it would be of great advantage to them to learn that the great
bulk of life?s joys come in small packages, right in one?s back yard or
living room or kitchen. That car that hasn?t broken down for a long time,
not like they used to a few decades ago; all those CDs playing in one?s
stereo system filling the air with the most beautiful sounds in the world;
the magical DVDs bring us some really spectacular, thrilling and sweet
movies that have been produced over the last century or so; the stunning
posters and prints on the walls of one?s flat or house that could only be
viewed in exclusive museums only a little while ago; the great variety of
culinary ingredients from which wonderful meals can be created, and so on
and so forth.

There really is so much surrounding us that can cheer one up and put all
the scary news blared at us in perspective! But we need to learn to keep
those in focus, otherwise the panic-peddlers will win and we will loose
the liberties and joys we have managed to secure over time because we will
yield to the temptation to put our trust in their hands. Please don?t do
that and enjoy all that you can.

No comments: