Ten Reasons to be Optimistic About Humanity
In the modern battle of good vs. evil, I’m betting on good. Why, because it’s easy to think the world is terrible when terrible things are being talked about everywhere, but perspective is everything and there have been amazing changes in our lifetime that make me proud to be a human. As a generation born of technology, we more often dispell the manipulations of power and deciding things collectively based on right or wrong. The access to each other has allowed us to say in a big loud voice how we feel about things, and unlike ancient Rome, our generation is voting for good. We are all the little guy and we can all continue to win. I see a victory in our future: Good 10, evil zip.
1. The Embrace of Same-Sex Couples
A cause for optimism has always been the capacity for people to change. Case in point, Dick Cheney, arguably one of the most conservative people on the planet is a supporter of gay rights thanks to his daughter Mary being openly gay, and most recently in New York, Republican senators not only voted in favor of gay marriage, a few admitted they were wrong for having opposed it before. I’m sorry, what? You said you were what? This deserves a national holiday with a commemorative speech so that we can celebrate this admission forever. Maybe more will follow. So a shout out to Senator Mark J. Grisanti and Republican State Senator Stephen Saland, two politicians that just got a lot more cred.
Another great sign of change, in mainstream media there are more portrayals of gay couples, and they are being portrayed as normal and happy. If you haven’t seen it, “The Kids Are Alright” is wonderful and amazing, a film focused on relationship issues, with kids that are happy and balanced. In short, it’s not a movie about being gay.
2. Diversity in Hotness
Leading talents come in all shapes and sizes more and more lately. Though everyone still looks the same on most magazine covers, we’re starting to get more ethnicities in the main stream, and more normal and diverse body-types. I think it’s a great sign when we see an actress that has chosen not to wear those chicken cutlet booby pads (Damn you, new choreographer for the Laker Girls). Because sorry, most girls are not a “big C”, and who the NcNugget decided that was the target to hit anyway? Color and diversity is so much more interesting, and it allows us all to stay more oriented to reality, not to mention, more comfortable in our lovely skin. Hopefully we will see more of it in the future!
3. Plastic Bag Bans
Bans on single-use plastic bags in grocery stores are passing across the country thanks in part to organizations like Heal the Bay. Having worked on this cause, I know a lot of people don’t see the merit of these bans and are super annoyed by them. Even a few of my greenest friends have said, “Great, how am I supposed to pick up dog poo now?” Well friends, you will figure out a way, and remember that this is a much bigger industrial waste issue. “Big Plastic” does a lot more than make a bag that you will responsibly reuse 4-5 times then fill with dog poo. You are quite the exception to the rule. Here are just a few stats about California from Heal the Bay:
- Californians use more than 19 billion plastic grocery and merchandise bags each year, roughly 552 bags per person. This usage generates 147,038 tons of unnecessary waste — enough to stretch around the globe over 250 times.
- Californians throw away over 600 plastic bags per second.
Not only are they overwhelmingly expensive and toxic to recycle, millions of plastic bags ends up in the ocean and inside the digestive systems of the fish you eat. Think of this ban as the preservation of your ability to eat sushi. And also to save the planet and stuff.
Shout out to myself: Here’s a link to a film I wrote for Heal the Bay. So stoked that this has actually helped a good cause to create real change. One small change I’m proud I’ve influenced in my life: my parents stopped getting plastic bags from the grocery store, and they even quit plastic bottles. Yay mom and dad!
4. The Douche-bag Backlash
The Anthony Weiner hecklers were extremely juvenile yes, but for me an awesome reminder and testament to the growing intolerance we have for douche baggery. The main heckler was a writer for Howard Stern, but affiliations aside he heckled for the public. Just because you’re a politician and you wear a suit, doesn’t mean that when you make your “heartfelt” apology to the public it will somehow magically undo months of flat-out lying. We do not feel bad for you, and for god’s sake learn how to use Twitter. If there’s one thing I’d like to stop hearing about it’s another cheating rich dude crying to a microphone about why he lied to everyone and screwed over a perfectly great lady. No more of this please, thank you.
5. Kids These Days Heart the Environment
Gen-Y, the latest of the age group labels, are decidedly more open to newness: in technology, lifestyle, and culture, and best of all they’re (we’re) also more environmentally conscious. They shop for things based on their function and economy, not for status. Gen-Y even buy less cars. Motorists aged 21 to 30 now account for 14% of miles driven, down from 21% in 1995. When the youngin’s do shop for cars they look for efficiency, economy, and gadgetry, in part because of a forward-looking perspective, but also because of a larger shift away from waste and excess. Just take a look back to the blinged out ’90’s when Puff-Daddy flossed ten Hummers and a couple jet-skis. Waste looks pretty trashy these days.
6. The Un-Coolness of Smoking
Smoking rates have dropped to an all-time low in CA, as have smoking scenes in movies targeted at kids. The tobacco industry is one of those weird anomalies in that they know and everyone else knows they kill people with their product, and yet they keep arguing against anyone stopping them from killing more people. Just like the prescription drug industry. Tres bizarre. Glad to see they are at least being phased out of fashion, and check out the new graphic and functional anti-smoking warnings on the packaging. (It’s pretty gross, warning you…)
7. Openness with Issues
The open discussion of real issues and therefore the removal of their stigma/intolerance inducing power, (thanks Liz Taylor and Betty Ford) is an awesome progression of culture. One example is Cat Power, mainstream musical hit who is also casual and open about being part of an all-sober band. Not in a weird way, in a normal I like myself better like this way.
Also great is the much more open discussion and understanding of PTSD in returning war veterans. The Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program at Fort Hood is a place where returning vets are being treated for PTSD with yoga and meditation. The most important thing is that we hear about it and publicly it’s talked about as a condition that exists. Otherwise, as a culture we can’t give any much needed support for soldiers suffering from trauma. With that loud universal voice of support comes policy change and aid for those who need it.
8. Women are Winning for the Right Reasons
Women’s soccer right now is making headline news. Yes, there are major doping problems in male-dominated sports, but the main reason for the focus on women’s sports is that they are killing it, and they’re bringing sports-loving, beer-drinking dudes to the TV set with their athletic ability (fingers crossed for US vs. Japan).
8. The Popularity of Doing Good
Being good is much more popularly expected for businesses these days. They’re more publicly held accountable for environmental harm and sexual discrimination. But there are also a new crop of businesses that have come into existence just to benefit people. Two shout outs for Good Magazine and Hello Giggles and their commitment to contributing something positive to the world. Also a shout out to Trader Joe’s for their BYO-Bag raffle and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, a reality show dedicated to getting better foods into public schools.
9. Sharing our Happiness
Open-sourced code and sharing of information, photos, recipes, art, fonts, and of self is one of the best parts of technology. Shout out to all those who give their selves and their art to the world in any way. I’m loving what the world has to offer on Flickr, Instagram, Dafont, Youtube, and even JT and MySpace.
10. Power to the masses
This is a decidedly more serious topic as there is much more upheaval in and around Egypt happening now, but I am still optimistic. Though it’s a long fight, and one not yet won, Twitter helped Egypt tell the world what was happening even when their whole internet was shut down by the dictatorship. It’s pretty amazing when technology connects those trying to overcome a system of power, and that power can’t do anything to stop it. Good luck Egypt, we’ll be listening. And reading.
What will the future look like? What’s really possible? All I know is it’s getting better and has gotten better in every generation. The truth is we have no idea how awesome things can be. Imagine if we could all focus on making things, and fulfilling potential. Though flip in contrast to Egypt, I’ll quote Whitney Houston because I feel it’s true, “I believe the children are our future“, and the future looks bright.