There are a lot of horrible things going on in the world around us. A thorough study of human history will show that the atrocities, devastation and conflict occurring now are not very different than what has been happening for thousands of years. But there are also some very amazing things unfolding around us.
On the technology front, I’m now able to hold a pretty powerful computer in my hands, when only a couple decades ago, the same computing power would fill large rooms. Using that computer, I can access Twitter, and learn about world events as they happen, from people “on the ground” as it were. With Facebook, I can connect to friends from high school and college, send them notes, see pictures of their families and, in a limited sense, share their memories, when previously I would probably lose touch with them, and correspondence would take weeks or months.
In a broader sense, the Internet has enabled the exchange of ideas and information like never before. We are able to learn about things that were previously inaccessible to the ordinary person. The “hand-held computer” (my iPhone) and its ecosystem of apps has allowed people to build businesses made of one or a handful of people, and make enough money to support their families.
On the scientific front, I read about black holes, dark matter, string theory, and the origins of the universe. We are able to send telescopes into space and study far off galaxies and star formation and countless other wonders. We send probes into deep space to learn about the other planets in our solar system, and discover water or ice there, the building blocks for life as we understand it, and wonder at the potential for other life in the universe.
I was browsing through the timeline of the ASIA group on Facebook last night, bathing in the nostalgia of music I grew up with, and I came across a song written by John Wetton called “An Extraordinary Life”. It was written after the group reformed recently, and quite some time after Wetton himself had undergone open-heart surgery. The song reflects on the ups and downs of life, mistakes and triumphs, struggles and glories, but ultimately concludes that life is extraordinary, and that we should “enjoy the day, come what may”.
I can’t help but agree.