And Christmas is still four months away.


Thanks to my buddy, Elizabeth Starčević’s loan of the book, I just finished, In Defense of a Liberal Education. I am a big fan of the author, Fareed Zakaria; I try never to miss his Sunday program on CNN: GPS, the Global Public Square. This, his latest book is as timely and to my taste as his TV program. His arguments for liberal education are cogent; I won’t repeat them here—read the book.

Instead, here is a quote from the chapter, “Knowledge and Power:”

After an anecdote about how in 1685, Charles II of England’s physicians’ treatment inadvertently killed him with medical skills that were the best in the world at the time, Zakaria goes on,

“Life expectancy around the time of Charles II was about thirty years, and it remained roughly the same until 1900. Live expectancy today is seventy years for the world population as a whole, and higher for people in advanced countries. Recent material progress has been astonishing. Before the turn of the millennium, the United Nations estimated that global poverty had declined more in the second half of the twentieth century than in the prior five hundred years. The average Chinese person today is forty times richer and lives thirty years longer than he or she did fifty years ago. China’s progress is the most remarkable, but it is widely shared. In 1960, nearly one in five children died. Today the ratio is one in twenty. It is quite possible that extreme poverty—life on less than $1.25 a day—will be extinct in a generation.”

Take that, you gloom and doom-ers. And no, I am not so swept away by my Pollyanna bent that I do not realize that there is much work to be done. All is not roses, and something is rotten in Denmark and everywhere else. BUT,

Let’s hear it for the good stuff!

It gives me renewed energy to work for change in the new year about to begin in my Jewish calendar—5776.


And a sweet New Year to all.