One of my former colleagues recently posted a link to the following blog, which I thought does a great job of putting a lot of our current situation into a better perspective:
However, that blogger cites the source as unknown, so he wasn't the original author. With that in mind, I think it's fair to reprint the contents here:
For a small amount of perspective at this moment, imagine you were born in 1900. When you are 14, World War I starts and ends on your 18th birthday with 22 million people killed. Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until you are 20. Fifty million people die from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million.
When you're 29, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, global GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 33. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy.
When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren't even over the hill yet. When you're 41, the United States is fully pulled into WWII. Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war and the Holocaust kills six million.
At 50, the Korean War starts, and five million perish.
At 55 the Vietnam War begins, and it doesn't end for 20 years. Four million people die in that conflict. Approaching your 62nd birthday you have the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, could well have ended. Great leaders prevented that from happening. As you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends.
Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900.
How do you survive all of that?
A kid in 1985 didn't think their 85-year-old grandparent understood how hard school was. Yet those grandparents (and now great grandparents) survived through everything listed above. Perspective is an amazing art. Let's try and keep things in perspective. Let's be smart, help each other out, and we will get through all of this.
That article, in summary, lists all the ways that the 20th century would have tried to kill you if you had been born in the year 1900. Between world wars and devastating diseases, the previous century was a terrible time to live.
And yet, I cannot help but think that the fatality numbers in that blog mostly reflect only the situations where the Western Hemisphere was somehow involved; they fail to address other mass repressions and genocides like:
- The Stalinist Purges in Russia (approximately 30 million deaths)
- The Chinese Cultural Revolution (approximately 30 million deaths)
- The Cambodian Genocide (approximately 2 million deaths)
- The Khmer Rouge repressions (approximately 2 million deaths)
- The Armenian Genocide (approximately 1.5 million deaths)
- The Rape of Nanking (approximately 500 thousand deaths)
- And I have no accurate sources to estimate the number of deaths in South America and Africa due to famines, diseases, genocides, and civil wars
In other words, if you had been born in the 1900, but you had lived somewhere other than North America during the 20th century, your chances of meeting with a violent death would have increased even more dramatically than the original article would suggest. I mention that because I met several people when I was stationed overseas who had survived many of those devastations; I knew Germans and Britons who had survived World Wars, depressions, repressions, famines, diseases, etc., yet today's over-privileged youths act like the world is ending if their Internet is too slow. As the writer of that blog suggested, it's all about perspective.
Anyway, it's food for thought.