I found this on my twitter feed the other day and it lends more hope and insight than anything I’ve read in a while. Takes a few minutes to read, but the information is dynamic and honestly too important to pass up. Mr. Gates confronts three prevalent global myths and deftly proves them wrong with a slew of data and success stories…For instance, here’s what he has to say about the first myth he discusses: Poor countries are doomed to stay poor.
“So the easiest way to respond to the myth … is to point to one fact: They haven’t stayed poor. Many—though by no means all—of the countries we used to call poor now have thriving economies. And the percentage of very poor people has dropped by more than half since 1990.”
I don’t know about you but I am astounded that we have eradicated the very poor by half in just two decades. THIS is a HUGE achievement!
The second myth Mr. Gates contends with (and its a big contention) is that “Foreign Aid is a Big Waste”. He pretty much makes the ‘don’t throw the baby out with the bath water’ case here, but he adds a great deal of proof to back up his argument, namely our overall health in global terms has increased substantially in the past half-century –
“Let’s put this achievement in historical perspective. A baby born in 1960 had an 18 percent chance of dying before her fifth birthday. For a child born today, the odds are less than 5 percent. In 2035, they will be 1.6 percent. I can’t think of any other 75-year improvement in human welfare that would even come close.”
Foreign aid, coupled with private donations, enable the most indigent of us with vaccines, food, schools, contraception, mosquito nets, and start-up money for national investments. Mr. Gates mentions that foreign aid really creates an overall synergistic environment and that most of those countries who have received aid in the past are now self-sustaining or require less aid than before. A healthy population leads to a healthy economy.
Since survival rates have increased, it seems logical that perhaps we would need to be concerned with over-population. Mr. Gates carefully draws from demographic data to demonstrate that this thought too is a myth.
“Given all the evidence, my view of a sustainable future is much more optimistic than the Malthusians’ view. The planet does not thrive when the sickest are allowed to die off, but rather when they are able to improve their lives. Human beings are not machines. We don’t reproduce mindlessly. We make decisions based on the circumstances we face.”
“When children are well-nourished, fully vaccinated, and treated for common illnesses like diarrhea, malaria, and pneumonia, the future gets a lot more predictable. Parents start making decisions based on the reasonable expectation that their children will live.”
He’s turned me on to a new term as well, something called the ‘virtuous cycle’…
“The virtuous cycle is not just development jargon. It’s a phenomenon that millions of poor people understand very well, and it guides their decisions from day-to-day. I have the privilege of meeting women and men in poor countries who commit the small acts of love and optimism—like going without so they can pay their children’s school fees—that propel this cycle forward. The future they hope for and work hard for is the future I believe in.”
In other words, any investment we make in our future, big or small, global or local, makes a difference. Let us all be willing to do our part to make our future one we can believe in.
Choose Hope Kids!