The case for optimism

I often find wisdom in unexpected places.

I was standing in line at Chipolte Mexican Grill waiting for a burrito to-go for my husband when I noticed a quote in big letters on a brown paper bag.

No, I did not get a burrito for me because I am still trying to lose the five pounds I gained during the holidays.

I noticed the quote because it was from Steven Pinker, and I received a Christmas book by Steven Pinker.

No, I have not read the book yet. The book The Better Angels of Our Nature—Why Violence Has Declined is 696 pages long. Yes, I am going to read it.

The quote I found?

“We will never have a perfect world, but it’s not romantic or naïve to work toward a better one,” says Steven Pinker.

On the back of the brown bag, Pinker writes “A Two-Minute Case for Optimism.”

“Violent crime has fallen by half since 1992, and fiftyfold since the Middle Ages,” he says. “Over the past 60 years, the number of wars and number of people killed in wars have plummeted. Worldwide, fewer babies die, more children go to school, more people live in democracies, more can afford simple luxuries, fewer get sick and more live to old age.”

Pinker concludes: “’Better’ does not mean ‘perfect.’ Too many people still live in misery and die prematurely, and new challenges, such as climate change, confront us. But measuring progress we’ve made in the past emboldens us to strive for more in the future.”

Chipolte is featuring Pinker and other authors on its brown bags as part of its “Cultivating Thoughts” program.

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