Despite the fear and problems that we hear so much about these days, there is mounting evidence that hope and solutions are growing much faster. I invite you to note these signs of light (in random order):
1. Peaceful World. “Violence has been in decline over long stretches of time”, says Harvard professor Steven Pinker, “and we may be living in the most peaceful time in our species’ existence.” The world is not falling apart. The kinds of violence to which most people are vulnerable—homicide, rape, battering, child abuse, and even wars—have been in steady decline in most of the world, according to statistics collected by Pinker. Details.
2. Measuring Happiness. The country of Bhutan in the Himalayas measures prosperity by gauging its citizens’ happiness levels, not the GDP. Bhutan’s principles have been set in policy through the gross national happiness index, based on equitable social development, cultural preservation, conservation of the environment, and promotion of good governance. In 2011, the UN adopted Bhutan’s call for a holistic approach to development, a move endorsed by 68 countries. Details.
3. Yoga Day. In 2015, the UN-sponsored International Yoga Day was held on June 21 and hosted in 84 countries. It was a result of Indian Prime Minister Modi’s speech at the UN in Sept. 2014. He said, “Yoga … is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.” Details.
4. Scientific Solution to Terrorism. In December 2015, the Global Union of Scientists for Peace delivered an open letter to 600 world leaders in 39 countries, and placed a full page ad in the International New York Times which reaches 6.6 million readers, announcing a proven solution to terrorism. It involves establishing groups of peace-creating experts in any region to reduce the acute societal stress that is the source of all political, ethnic, religious, and racial conflicts. Once the stress is reduced, violence subsides and practical solutions are easy to find. It has been tested in 50 different real-life situations over 30 years, has been published in peer-reviewed journals, and has withstood all scientific scrutiny. The scientists say the program works and needs to be implemented now in light of our perilous situation. Details.
5. Pope’s Message. In June 2015, Pope Francis published Laudato Si, his encyclical that detailed the need for climate change. Francis made it clear that he hoped the encyclical would influence energy and economic policy and stir a global movement. He called on ordinary people to press politicians for change. Francis was also reaching for a wider audience, asking in the document “to address every person living on this planet.” This message created a wave of publicity throughout the world that influenced the eventual agreement. Details.
6. Climate Change. The recent agreement in Paris produced a landmark agreement among 195 countries of the world. Regardless of how it gets implemented, the consensus of taking care of our planet is worth celebrating. This milestone accord will, for the first time, commit nearly every country to lowering planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions to help stave off the most drastic effects of climate change. The deal represents a historic breakthrough on an issue that has foiled decades of international efforts to address climate change. Details.
7. Solar PowerWall. A big breakthrough in electricity generation is underway. April 30, 2015, Tesla Motors announced the launch of their PowerWall. It is a home battery that charges using electricity from solar panels, and powers your home in the evening as well as providing backup for outages. Having a way to store solar energy easily has been the big bottleneck in use of solar energy. The age of the sun is on the horizon. Details.
8. Peak Performance. A new book by Dr. Harold Harung and Dr. Fred Travis called Excellence through Mind-Brain Development, subtitled The Secrets of World-Class Performers, describes their research which shows that excellence is simpler and different than we thought. Excellence or peak performance (as shown by athletes, musicians, and managers) does NOT depend on factors like education, practice, or incentives. Their research shows that excellence “depends on the single factor of higher mind-brain development.” Details.
9. New Sleep Research. New research shows that a recently discovered mechanism that removes waste products from the brain is mainly active during sleep. This revelation could transform scientific understanding of what sleep is for, and how it works and offers new directions for brain disease treatments. Details.
10. New Dental Procedures. A company from Scotland has figured out how to remineralize teeth and thus avoid the endless cycle of drilling and filling that most of us are familiar with. It involves using a a tiny current of electricity, like used by physical therapists to stimulate muscle repair. The current pulls minerals into the cavity and stimulates the tooth to re-grow the minerals, healing the tooth. The process should be ready for the public in 2017, and they see the potential of eliminating cavities in all children, leading to healthier future generations. Details.