Foto: CCBY Lydia Brooks

Journalist: My dearest daughter, we are improving the world

Trump, terror, refugees, climate change. Journalist Marianne Lamers raises her daughter in a threatening world. But she sees things differently.


My dearest daughter,

Currently the big bad wolf is the scariest thing in your life, or sometimes it’s the wind that suddenly pulls your red bubble umbrella. Or, when it’s time to go to sleep, it’s a dark room without a lamp shaped like a squirrel.

When the time comes that you are able to read this letter by yourself, my dear daughter, you will slowly discover that there are many more scary things in the world than the big bad wolf or dark rooms. You will read about war and climate change in the newspapers. Your tablet will show images of hunger and inequality. The radio will be shouting concerns about terror and refugees in your ears.

Don’t believe everything, my child. Misery has always been a big part of our history but fortunately so are the solutions we find as humans. The truth is that when I was still in my cradle my prospects weren’t as good as yours are now.

Your mother came into the world in the middle of the Cold War. Grandpa and Grandma did not worry about Trump, climate change or terrorism. They protested against nuclear weapons, were afraid of ‘the bomb’ and were concerned about the acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer.

But those that threatened a Cold War made their peace. The bomb never fell. The Americans and Russians took 85 percent of their nuclear weapons to the trash. And what about the acid rain and the ever-depleting ozone layer? We all stopped using dirty CFCs and we all stopped worrying.

In my birth year 1980, children worldwide had it a lot worse than today. Nearly 2.6 million children died of measles in 1980; a disease we are now vaccinated against so that in 2015 only 134,000 children died of this disease. In 1980 almost half of the world was desperately poor. Nowadays the poor number less then 10 percent. If we succeeded to help so many people escape poverty; surely we will be able to fix the remaining 10%?

Yes, there is still war and terrorism but compared with the last century, we managed to reduce the number of victims. And yes, the climate still changes, but we are able to deal with the consequences better and better. And yes, children still die from malaria and malnutrition, but infant mortality has fallen by more than half compared to the day that I was born.

Certainly, clean drinking water is still scarce, but since the eighties, a staggering number of 2.6 billion people have achieved access to clean water. Still too many children don’t attend school but by 2017 we have reached a tipping point: 91 percent of all children in the world are currently attending elementary school.

All of this amazing progress did not just happen. It happened, my dearest daughter, through our efforts. Through governments, through NGO’s, development organisations and because of the efforts of ordinary people like you and me who simply wanted something to change. We did not allow ourselves to be discouraged by the problems we read about in the newspaper everyday but we were inspired by the incredible progress we have made so far. Of course progress is still needed. So please remain little and carefree for a time but know that it’s possible to improve the world; every single day.

The author Marianne Lamers is a freelance journalist at World’s Best News in the Netherlands



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