Another holiday season is around the corner and we should be in a good mood. Yet if you scan the headlines, you will find it difficult to get a break from gloom. Fiscal cliff and mindless violence in the U.S.; enigma of igniting growth in Europe and Japan; bloodbath in Syria; a fragile Spring in Egypt; missile tests in Korea; the list goes on and on.
What these headlines hide is one vital fact: We are the luckiest generation in the whole human history. We lead longer, healthier, more peaceful and more capable lives than any generation before us. Equally importantly is who we learn from. 'Til recently, we used to learn, essentially, from our neighbors; now we learn from the experiences of 7 billion people. This is a fantastic time to be alive. In the midst of all this gloom, it behooves us to take two steps back and appreciate the bigger picture.
We also have tremendous challenges but, if we do not first appreciate how fortunate we are, the present gloom will not equip us with the wherewithal to face the next round of challenges. One key challenge is our increasing interdependence. Thanks to technology and democracy, we were on a path, for the last two hundred years, to get greater mastery over the course of our lives, but recently our global interdependence has reached a tipping point and our destiny is increasingly a function of what others in other countries do. Folks at Davos tell us to embrace interdependence, but most people around the world find being at the mercy of winds from far away corners highly unappealing.
What should we do? Resign to our faiths, or find an intelligent and effective way to regain control? If you want to try the latter, you can do one of two things in this holiday season: You can watch a 55 minute documentary by a phenomenal Chinese director and see how people in diverse corners of the world suggest we deal with our increasing interdependence. I guarantee that Jian Yi's documentary will lift your spirits. Or, you can join 60 young people from 15 countries: they have just co-authored a hypothetical dialogue between two young people about what it means to live in an interdependent world. Heed their invitation: Print a few copies and pass those print outs around at the Christmas dinner and join that global conversation.
Both experiments converge on one vital conclusion: We are not alone. There are many decent people around the world, and they are our friends and allies as we figure out how to once again become masters of our fate. Finding out about them and their thoughtfulness is one sure way to feel more optimistic. Happy holidays!