Things are so bad, that is, if reality is worth anything.

It sometimes seems there is a cancer within, a pessimism that is often at odds with the evidence, a pessimism that can be a self fulfilling prophecy. Such a view seems to meet some internal emotional need. The cure may be to lift one’s eyes and look beyond the buffeting of the storms one encounters and get a broader picture placed in the context of reality. Thomas Barnett talks about some of this in WPR Article | The New Rules: The Naughties Were Plenty Nice.

Why are we so convinced that the last 10 years, the decade of the Naughts, have lived up to their name by coming to naught? … First and most obviously, there is a Western-centric tone to all this hyperbole. … What does humankind gain by lifting hundreds of millions out of chronic poverty, if tens of millions of Western middle-class-niks are condemned to a decade of wealth stagnation? Should we good people be denied our rightful retirement age simply to accommodate all these colorful types in regions far, far away? …

Ask the average person on the street today and he or she will tell you that the entire world is consumed by war — perpetual war, even — when, on a per capita basis, we are indisputably living through the most peaceful era in human history. No other period even comes close. …

Now we get to the heart of our fears concerning the Naughts: the “suddenly” discovered transfer of global power — allegedly “zero-sum” — from West to East. … The first thing you must do to even find yourself asking this question is purge from your mind all memory of the bad fiscal habits acquired by Americans and Europeans across a quarter-century economic boom, and accept as truth the premise that all that technology innovation and wealth creation was a complete lie! …

Or simply realize that we Americans have plenty to be thankful for, plenty to be proud of, and plenty to look forward to — so long as we remember that we are facing a present and a future that we long sought to create, but not dominate.

For those still stuck in the terrible naughties paradigm, see what Say Anything has in response to a Reason video that exemplifies the EOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) illness in Were The 2000’s The Worst Decade Ever?. Another perspective at the Christian Science Monitor is A New Year’s resolution: Don’t accept US decline

The airwaves and netwaves are full of reviews of the decadem horribilis – a decade of terror attacks, two hot wars, hurricane Katrina, a great recession, a record federal deficit, and more. … There’s no denying that these past years have been tough for many in the United States, … The US is still the world’s largest economy … Corporate spending on R&D may have slowed, but peek inside engineering schools and home offices. Innovation is humming. The Wall Street Journal reported recently a surge in “tinkering” as plummeting prices on materials and equipment allow individuals to turn their ideas into inventions. Engineering schools are reporting more students wanting to do hands-on work. “Hackerspaces,” where tinkerers can share ideas and tools, are blossoming across the country. … Americans also want to help others. Community service has soared over the last 20 years.

why?

Too often, I think, we end up thinking that everything is awful not because things really are awful but rather because that’s what various factions want us to think. Because that’s what best serves their purpose.

Whatever the reason or motivation for all of the doom and gloom and pessimism, a bit of intellectual integrity might be worthwhile. A concentration on problems can help in finding solutions but an obsession with problems can be an illness. There is much to be thankful for and many blessings to be acknowledged.

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