This week I’ve noticed a lot of sites taking a look back a 2014 – best, worst, most memorable, most forgotten, etc, etc. Rather than focus on the past, or tell you what you should do to stay on track for your resolutions, I thought it might be nice to dish out some straight-up inspiration to get you pumped and ready to make this year an awesome one. Here are a few ways that we’re already halfway there:
#1: Global poverty is decreasing.
I know I’ve talked about this before, but it always gets me pumped to think about. In 2002 the UN set a goal to halve global poverty rates by 2015, and in 2010 we met that goal, way ahead of schedule and are currently on track to halve world hunger too.
#2: Access to drinkable water is improving.
We have halved the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water between 1990 and 2010. Another Millennium Development Goal achieved ahead of schedule? Look at us go!
#3: Fewer babies are dying.
I’m just going to let the UN do the talking on this one: “Despite population growth, the number of deaths in children under five worldwide declined from 12.7 million in 1990 to 6.3 million in 2013, which translates into about 17,000 fewer children dying each day.”
#4: Education is improving in the U.S.
Less kids are dropping out of school in the United States, and the long-term achievement trends in reading and mathematics are largely improving. Just look at this beautiful graph of the declining dropout rate from the National Center for Education Statistics. This is particularly meaningful, since high school dropouts are statistically more likely to be living in poverty, dependent on government assistance, or incarcerated. Long-term trends in reading and mathematics achievement are looking good too – icing on our proverbial cake!
#5: AIDS and malaria infections and mortality are declining.
The UN reports that the number of new AIDS infections is declining in most places and there has been less AIDS-related death. They also reported a 42% decline in malaria mortality rates. If that doesn’t brighten your day, I’m not sure what will.
#6: We are very close to completely eradicating polio.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative just published yet another really uplifting chart, illustrating the near steady decline in the number of cases of polio in Africa over the past five years. They, in partnership with the global community, have successfully eliminated two out of three strains of the virus, and are gunning for a third. I, for one, am in their corner.
#7: Homelessness is on the decline.
The National Alliance to End Homelessness recently reported that homelessness in the United States has fallen in the past year, overall and among all subgroups including those who are at greater risk. Although many states have continuing issues with homelessness, if you look at their line graph it is pretty apparent that homelessness is mostly declining and even stayed mostly flat during the height of the recession.
#8:The world is becoming less violent.
A relatively recent study showed that not only is violence significantly less prevalent than it once was, but it has been in steady decline for hundreds of years. This fact seems surprising, particularly when compared with the great prevalence of violence in our news and media. It’s easy to forget that we are living at one of the best times humanity has experienced – thus far.
#9: Americans are giving more money to charity.
This year, charitable giving in the United States is growing by around 9%, surely boosted by a number of new social movements like #GivingTuesday (the day after Cyber Monday and designated celebration of charitable giving). This kind of growth for the social sector has the potential to produce even bigger results down the line.
#10: This is just the beginning.
The social sector has only recently begun tracking these things and making concerted, data-driven efforts to improve well-being at the local, national, and global levels. The United Nations has only been around since 1945, and only started setting goals for improving well-being on this earth since 2002. Just imagine what we can accomplish after another 10-15 years building on these successes.
I hope these facts are a reminder that working together, we can truly make a meaningful difference in the world. Let’s make this the year that we meet all of our goals, and have a happy and healthy 2015!