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Speeches

L. Sanchez: Address to World Summit 2020

Address to World Summit 2020, Seoul, Korea, February 3-8, 2020

 

Peace. “Blessed are the Peacemakers.” Their services will always be needed on earth.

We wake up every morning to the clamor of partisan warfare, impeachment hearings, terrorist attacks and the prospects of WWIII. I served 20 years in the US Congress and I know that every day half of Washington wakes up determined to tear down their political opponents. We are constantly bombarded with stories of conflict, strife and bad news. AND YET, when we look at the actual state of the world today, in terms of armed conflict and the causes of conflict, we discover this very startling and surprising fact: The world today is more peaceful, prosperous, and safe than it has ever been since the Garden of Eden.

According to Matt Ridley, a well-known British journalist, and Hans Rosling, a Swedish statistician:

  1. We’re better off now. Fifty-five years ago, when I was just 4 years old, the average human earned just one third of what they earn today. Today that average human eats 1/3 more calories and can expect to live 1/3 longer.
  1. Poverty is nose-diving. The rich get richer, but the poor do even better. In the last 20 years, the poor doubled their consumption. The UN estimates that poverty was reduced more in the past 50 years than in the previous 500. Every day, 180,000 people earn their way out of extreme poverty.
  1. The important stuff costs less. One reason we are richer, healthier, taller, cleverer, longer-lived, and freer than ever before is that the four most basic human needs – food, clothing, fuel, and shelter – have grown markedly cheaper. In 1800, reading one hour by candlelight cost six hours’ work. In the 1880s, one hour of light from a kerosene lamp took 15 minutes’ work to pay for. In 1950, it was eight seconds. Today, it’s half a second. In these terms, we are 43,200 times better off than in 1800.
  1. The environment is better than you think. A car today emits less pollution traveling at 60 mph than a parked car did from leaks in 1970.
  1. Shopping fuels innovation. Even allowing for the many people who still live in poverty, our own generation has access to more: Calories, Watts, Horsepower, Gigabytes, Square Feet, Air Miles, Food per Acre, Miles per Gallon, Megahertz, and, of course, MONEY than any who lived before us. This will continue as long as we use these things to make other things. The more we specialize and exchange, the better off we are.
  1. Global trade enriches our lives. By 9 a.m., I’ll have brushed my teeth with American toothpaste, eaten bread made with French wheat and spread with New Zealand butter and Spanish marmalade, brewed tea from Sri Lanka, dressed in clothes made from Indian cotton and Australian wool, put on shoes of Chinese leather and Malaysian rubber, and read a newspaper printed on Finnish paper with Chinese ink before I get into my Korean- made Kia and drive to work. I’ll have consumed tiny fractions of the productive labor of hundreds of people. This is the magic of trade and specialization. Self-sufficiency is poverty.
  1. More farm production = more wilderness. While world population has increased by 4 times since 1900, other things have increased too: the area of crops by 30 percent, harvests by 600 percent. More than two billion acres of “secondary” tropical forest are now re-growing since farmers left them to head for cities, and those acres are already rich in biodiversity.
  1. The good old days weren’t. Some people argue that in the past there was a simplicity, tranquility, sociability, and spirituality that’s now been lost. But that life was confined to the wealthy. It’s easy to talk about the by-gone life-style of a pioneer when you don’t use an outhouse.
  1. We are the luckiest generation. We have experienced more freedom, leisure time, education, medicine, and travel than any people in history.
  1. Great ideas keep coming. The more we prosper, the more we can prosper. The more we invent, the more inventions become possible. Almost everything is subject to diminishing returns. But the world of ideas is not: The ever-increasing exchange of ideas causes the ever-increasing rate of innovation in the modern world. We will never exhaust our supply of ideas, discoveries, and inventions.
  1. We can solve all our problems. If you say the world will go on getting better, you are considered mad. If you say catastrophe is imminent, people nod and say, “Yes.” TV is crammed with doom. But, the human race is a problem-solving machine: It solves those problems by changing its ways. The real danger – when there is NO CHANGE.
  1. Optimists are right. For 200 years, pessimists have had all the headlines – even though optimists have far more often been right. There is immense vested interest in pessimism. No charity ever raised money by saying things are getting better. No journalist ever got the front page writing a story about how disaster was now less likely. Pressure groups and their customers in the media search even the most cheerful statistics for glimmers of doom.

There are 3 things we need to do as leaders:

  1. We need new, strong moral leadership in the world today.
  2. We need to seize this moment of world transparency and economic well-being. Instead of using military and intelligence, use diplomacy and economic powers.
  3. We need to spread the good news. I know that phrase means a particular something to Dr. Moon, her family, and other people of the cloth in this room, but I’m actually talking about being evangelists for “good news.” Remember the statistics I began with. We are in a good time. Rejoice and spread the good news.

For most of history and humanity, religion plays an important part. Spread our hands and reach out. Bridge the differences. We need to go where others fear to go. We need to reach across deep religious and political gulfs and be builders of optimism.

 

 


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