… is from page 49 of Steven Pinker’s 2018 book, Enlightenment Now :
As we care more about humanity, we’re apt to mistake the harms around us for signs of how low the world has sunk rather than how high our standards have risen.
DBx: Many of today’s concerns, however valid or invalid any of them might be, are luxury concerns. Only rich people – by which I mean people whose standard of living is roughly that of ordinary citizens of first-world countries in the early 21st century – can afford to worry about the likes of climate change, species loss, the manner in which chickens are raised, urban sprawl, how locally ‘sourced’ is the eggplant that we eat, and rising Gini coefficients.
Again, I don’t say that these and other modern concerns are invalid. Some are and some aren’t. But it’s good to pause from time to time to be thankful that we’re wealthy enough to have escaped most of the daily, much more horrible concerns that pressed immediately upon our ancestors. It’s appropriate to be grateful that we’re rich enough to worry about, say, what might happen in a few decades to the sea level in a distant country rather than about whether or not our children will die of starvation during the night.