Trump or Clinton: 10 reasons why it’s going to be okay

In the run up to the 2016 election, both parties – and the independent majority in the middle – have said the future of our democracy is at stake. Although this IS an important election, and voting is REALLY IMPORTANT, it’s helpful to recognize that Life on Earth is better now than at any point in history.

While there is more work to be done, here are ten reasons to be thankful for how far we’ve already come.

one 150 years ago, Native Americans we forced to relocate from the Eastern US to Oklahoma (mostly) and live on reservations.

To many Americans, including President Andrew Jackson, the extension of any freedom to the Indians did not even seem possible. Due to their “savage habits” as Jackson referred to them, their was a question as to whether they could even be considered citizens. (source)

Today, Native Americans are full citizens with legal rights and protections, as well as sovereignty and local self-rule. A century ago they were nearly completely genocided. Although, they still deserve more freedom, autonomy, and respect, they’re better off today.

native-american-population-1700-to-2000-chart
Native American Population since arrival of Christopher Columbus

two_2100 years ago women had few rights. Women could not vote. They could not hold public office. They used to bake cakes to influence the men who voted on election day.

Women could not divorce. Susan B Anthony’s women’s suffrage movement was fueled partly by another movement – wives of alcoholic husbands who wanted to divorce them and avoid economic ruin for their children. Women won the right to vote around the same time the sale of alcohol became prohibited.

Married women could not work in most professions. Women could not have their own bank accounts. They could not earn equal pay, or even be paid without husbands controlling their money. (Many wives still can’t control their money today in Africa but mobile money systems like MPESA are changing that). Even a woman’s appearance, behavior, and beliefs were regulated by men.

There’s more work to be done, but we’re better off today.

three 100 years ago children had no right to a free public education. They worked, often under dangerous conditions for little pay. Before 1938, children worked in factories from the age of 7. After 1938, the minimum age was 16. My grandfather worked in Connecticut clothing mills from the age of 9. Today child labor remains a problem around the world.

There’s more work to be done, but we’re better off today.

four100 years ago workers had no 40 hour work week. Henry Ford instituted that for his employees, giving them enough salary to only work five days a week, as well as closing the factory on weekends. He concept of the 2-day weekend was created in 1914 and it caught on everywhere because workers demanded it. Today some workers around the world (e.g. Bangladesh and Myanmar where many of our clothes are made) must still work six days a week, 12 hours a day. They need us to demand equal rights for them. Voting is important, but how you spend your money matters more to their future.

There’s more work to be done, but we’re better off today.

Working women still  deserve more money and respect than they get. But they are better off today (pay is closer to parity and they have more freedom to choose a career) than they were in any past generation.

working-mom-40-hour-work-week-infographic

fiveIn the past 100 years life expectancy has increased dramatically, and death from disease has dwindled. Wars are less common than they were at any point in history. Because of globalization, more people report on the victims of conflict today than at any point in history. Their reports may not appear on national news or 24 cable TV, but they are available to anyone who wishes to know about it. Our ignorance has more to do with our daily choices than to any conspiracy to withhold the truth from us. People over the last several centuries had to right to learn the truth about anything “dangerous” to those in power.

Life-expectancy-us-1900-2011.png

There’s more work left to be done to build peace and extend life, but we’re better off today.

sixAll people earn more money, and have more leisure time than they did 50 years ago. Technology is more universally accessible. In the 1940s and 1950s, only the super rich could fly. In the 1970s only companies and the super rich benefited from computers. Today almost everyone can afford the same top-of-the-line computers, at least in America.

ourworldindata_no-100-charts-banner-life-expectancy-vs-gdp-scatter

There’s more work to be done, but we’re better off today.

seven Citizens have always been told that America is based on the principle of “one man one vote.” Despite this, throughout our history, many of those in power have worked to define who could actually vote in the most restrictive ways possible. 250 years ago, this meant only white landowning men. Between 2012 and 2016, 164 new laws were passed by those in power to make voting harder for certain segments of the population.

new-voting-restrictions-voterid1

But it is getting easier to fight injustice.

In 2016, these laws were challenged so that elections would better reflect the will of the people – everyone. We should be thankful that the system is not so unfair that we cannot even challenge it, as this has been true for most of our history.

Corruption is more transparent now that at any point in history, our tools to police our leaders more powerful, and our agency to right wrongs greater now than ever before.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” MLK said in 1954. Today, injustice anywhere persists not because it cannot be defeated, but because too few people spend any time working for change. Most lives are so comfortable that this sort of hard work no longer seems vital. Apathy is a measure that things are better for most people – but not everyone.

There’s more work to be done, but we’re better off today.

eight Access to information: A mere 20 years ago it was much easier for those in power to simply deny you access to other “dangerous” ideas. Banning a book used to be a powerful way to control thought. Today – in the information age – this idea is absurd, impractical. Some examples of books banned in my lifetime include: Civil Disobedience, A People’s History of the United States, and Black Like Me.

bannedinusa_mapbanned-books-ya

We have to do more to inspire people to want to seek out the truth, but we’re better off today than at any point in history.

nine Freedom of assembly: 80 years ago workers were denied the right to collective bargaining. Thousands died in protests and clashes with police (defending the factory bosses on taxpayer salaries) fighting for this right. Religious minorities were denied many rights in practice. A black man could be lynched for doing what was legal but not culturally permissible. In “milder cases” a traveling black man was simply given an ultimatum to leave town within 24 hours after arriving (wiki sundown town and the negro green book).

negro-motorists-green-book-1950s-caption.png

Much injustice remains, and there’s more work to be done, but we’re better off today.

ten Shared power: When only white landowning men voted, 95 percent of Americans had no voice.

When non-landowning white men got to vote, 80 percent of the population was still excluded.

When women got the right to vote, 60 percent of the population still did not vote.

Today the majority of Americans have a voice. Still, The United States has the lowest voter participation of any developed “rich” country.

If you believe that these 10 things are better now than they once were, and you’re willing to work for change, then voting is the least you can do to ensure the world continues to improve.

Throughout history those in power have sought to discourage the masses from voting, or participating in democracy – because it meant they had less power. Those in power rejoice when you decide you have no voice – that your vote doesn’t count. Voting legitimizes the process, and makes “running for office” seem like a good idea to good people. When few vote, good people work for change in other non-political ways, and lust for power attracts the least competent people into the foray.

So if you want good people to vote for, then vote in every election. Even a vote for the loser is a vote for Democracy itself – it legitimizes the process by which people are chosen to be leaders. 

You believe in THAT don’t you?

There’s much work to be done. But things are already so much better than they ever were. And change is within reach – if you are willing to work for it.

Future Predictions: Change we can expect in the next seven generations

1. Political parties will continue to evolve.

Look at how much they’ve already changed in the last 200 years. A party must be in flux to remain relevant.

politics-antebellum-parties-have-changed-in-usa-many-times

2. Change will happen faster than it has ever happened before.

Information is power, and information is spreading faster and will accelerate. It also is spreading more equitably to those with little power.

speed-of-change-in-many-usa-social-movements-compared
Missing: school racial integration, which took about 20 years before court challenges subsided.

The Civil Rights Movement took more than a generation. Future movements will be faster.a-civil-rights-movement-timeline-1954-to-1969

3. “Civil rights” will cease to be a concept. All rights will be universal “human rights.”

This will happen because of our shared values, and not because of some improvements in “law.” Laws are created by those in power to make compromises with other people who hold power. As such, laws are inherently going to contradict each other. But value systems tend to overlap among the peoples of Earth more and more with each generation.

4. Religions and spirituality will be distinct.

We each control the spiritual journey we take through life, and that journey is how we come to realize and define our core values. These values define how we shape our lives, our relationships, and how we live together on this planet.

Religion is to spirituality as culture is to personality. We are all born into a people in some land with innate beliefs about the world. But as we grow, we explore, we question those assumptions, and decide who we really are. That’s our personal identity, or personality. And it is our spiritual and our personality that inspire us to take a moral stand.

Strengthening our nature as spiritual beings will “open our eyes” to how we are more alike – and therefore deserving of mutual respect. This will lead to culture change, and religious reform.

5. Women will reach parity with men as religious and spiritual leaders.

All cultural and social value change has happened throughout history because of religious leaders, and those leaders have all been men. It stands to reason that most voices have been marginalized in past change movements. Opening up religious leadership to women and more diversity will increase the legitimate voices in the mix, accelerate the rate of spiritual growth, leading to faster social change.

6. We will evolve as a society and grow as moral beings.

Much of what seems impossible today will be commonplace in seven generations. Much of what is permissible today (but morally wrong) will be universally shunned. Stay tuned.

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