MERRY Christmas. The holiday season gives people time to reflect on family and friends, but they should also appreciate the times they live in and the world situation.
Each Christmas, Christians say their hope for the world is peace on Earth and goodwill toward men. Surprisingly, the world seems to be achieving the former, but we may be moving away from the latter as people seem to become coarser and less caring.
Gradually, man has lost his taste for war. Hiroshima and Nagasaki showed the sheer madness of war. In the 68 years since Little Man and Fat Boy bombed Japan, the carnage has ebbed. Mankind came to the precipice of self-annihilation and backed down. And for all its faults and flaws, the United Nations also has eased tensions.
On the battlefront today, Wikipedia reported there are 11 major ongoing wars, including two in Sudan. The death toll from those wars this year is around 100,000 people, while there are another 29 wars with less than 1,000 fatalities last year. Most of these battles are civil wars in non-Western states.
While the death and destruction are awful, the year's death toll from war pales compared to the 100 million or so souls lost in World War II.
The end of war is within sight, and in a truly peaceful manner as fewer people now live in tyranny than 40 years ago, when communism blanketed half of Europe and fascist governments were in charge of Portugal and Spain. The liberation of Europe and the rise of the European Union have replaced distrust with hope.
Peace brought prosperity, which in turn brought better education, sanitation, transportation and so on. The death rate worldwide in 1950 to 1955 was 19.5 deaths annually per 100,000 people, according to the United Nations. Today, it is 8.3. The major reason for the explosion in the world's population is not births — as the birth rate, too, has fallen by half — but the fact that people live longer.
A century ago, the worldwide average life expect-ancy was 31, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Today it is 67.2.