Obama: ‘The world is healthier, kinder than any time in human history’

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Barack Obama has had a lot to say lately about the state of the world. And per his usual, it is mostly positive. Besides celebrating his daughters’ thoughtful activism, promoting his new memoir, A Promised Land, and privately calling out Donald Trump, Obama has been making the podcast rounds. Obama appeared on Conan O’Brien’s Need a Friend podcast where he spoke about racial injustice and the pandemic. Obama stated that the world is healthier, better educated, and kinder than ever. Obama went on to say that progress isn’t made in a straight line. Below are a few more highlights via People:

After a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice and economic uncertainty, Obama shares some of the same wisdom he’s imparted on his daughters Sasha, 19, and Malia, 22. “What I always tell young people is, if you examine history, then you come to the conclusion that as terrible as things are, the world is healthier, better educated, kinder on average than just about any time in human history,” the A Promised Land author explains.

“The problem is we just don’t make progress in a straight line. We have to be vigilant. We have to work hard. We have to push and be resilient,” the father of two continues.

“That is what I hope I’ve instilled, not just in my daughters, and Michelle’s instilled in our daughters, I hope that our body of work that continues is instilling in young people that sense of, ‘Yeah, it’s hard. You’re not going to get a hundred percent of what you’re hoping for. There’ll still be injustice and racism and ignorance, but you can make things better,’ ” he says.

[From People]

Barack did reference injustice, racism and ignorance, but as we’ve seen from him and his wife, they focus on the positive. I beg to differ that the world is healthier, kinder, and better educated. We’re more connected than ever due to the Internet, but the Internet is a double-edged sword. Plus there are armed conflicts happening and innocent people being killed. I would prefer that people with these large platforms be more realistic. Barack and Michelle have made statements about George Floyd, Breanna Taylor and many others, but I would like them to say more as it concerns racial inequality. I am sure Obama has stronger thoughts than what he allows into the public sphere.

photos via Instagram

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33 Responses to “Obama: ‘The world is healthier, kinder than any time in human history’”

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  1. Paleokifaru says:

    Unfortunately, I suspect he feels he has to be so positive in the public sphere because of the existing racism. Same for Michelle and add secxism to it. I’m not saying they aren’t positive people, or positive leaning on most days, just that from the horrible things I’ve seen since joining social media (I am a late comer and only joined when the pandemic hit bc I needed to understand the platforms for work), I can only imagine the hate they’d receive if they criticized something.

    • Christine says:

      I agree with you, even though I am infuriated to do so (not at you or the Obamas, I swear!). I cannot believe I am nodding in agreement, rather than hope they just let loose, with whatever causes they want to be involved with, but I know that the Obamas have read the room, far more critically than I could. I wish our country was better. With all of my heart.

  2. teehee says:

    I think what he means is, we no longer saw people in half by routine, or dunking people in rivers to check if they are witches.

    We’ve become more subtle and imaginative– more SYSTEMATIC– in our cruelty so it looks more behaved.
    We are now indirectly starving people or harming them by allowing them to be frozen out in blackouts or bled dry based on their income or race. “We” all do it together as a passive part of a system that we are FORCED to be in in order to survive, rather than a handful of people in a village who tied people up to a wheel and broke their limbs deliberately.

    And we don’t all die before 40 (healthier).

    I think… that’s how he means it. :P

    • MissMarirose says:

      That’s definitely how he means it.
      He’s saying that, *relatively speaking,* we are healthier, better educated, and kinder. Which we are. It’s not an objective comment on the state of humanity today. It’s a statement about how effing AWFUL things were in the past.

    • Jules says:

      Yea, agreed. The history of humans is horribly violent when you consider barbarian invasions and conquests, the Crusades, religious persecutions. Beheadings were so common that seeing a head on a stake when you entered a village was simply a sign of how law was enforced We are still violent today but it’s not as blatant, and it’s in the mind now. I don’t know if it’s better and healthier but it’s different.

    • jb says:

      Couldn’t agree w you more Teehee. I was saying something similar the other week—there is something about human nature that is deeply cruel and violent, so while yes, globally we aren’t using the guillotine or drowning women suspected to be witches, the horrible rot that lives within humanity hasn’t exactly evolved out. That same impulse to differentiate, discriminate, murder and maim others doesn’t disappear through the shambolic “civil society” as the historians and charlatans have labeled our social configurations. Instead, it’s evolved into us having serial killers and mass shootings, and governments who start drone wars and zealot terrorists who storm capitals and behead journalists. Same sh*t, different format.

      The sooner we accept that humans are savage, and society is just simply a punishing handcuff to curb those impulses, the sooner we can adjust our expectations and education to deprogram ourselves from the horrors of ourselves.

    • Chica says:

      I think a good show everyone on the post should watch is Year and Years. It’s currently on HBO Max and is a mini series, so only 7 episodes if I remember correctly. It’s exactly the show that sums up this article and what Obama is saying, but even more on point of what @TeeHee is saying. It’s really good and touches on current and future affairs.

  3. NCWoman says:

    If you look at the whole of human history, he’s correct. But it’s very difficult to appreciate that when racism, bigotry, and all the other horrors are omnipresent and every day black people and other people of color face fresh battles thanks to white supremacists having power that they should not ever have been given. We’re still on the knife’s edge of fascism here in the United States. Trump for some reason thinks he’s be president again by August.

  4. Darla says:

    always so careful…i’m over it.

    • AMA1977 says:

      Does he really owe us “not so careful”? Sadly, he’s still hated and hunted even though he’s careful in public, and probably always will be. He and his family gave us 8 years at a great cost, and now his kids are young adults who will not have the protections that they did when he was in office. He and Michelle are private citizens, and can keep their thoughts to themselves if they wish, IMO. I still worry that some crazed lunatic is going to harm him or his family even though he’s so careful, and I’m sure that thought weighs on him when he decides to thoughtfully measure his words publicly.

  5. Ann says:

    Anyone of us could be the next victim of a shooting, which is happening basically daily now, sometimes multiple times a day. That isn’t peace.

  6. cassandra says:

    I mean, he’s not wrong? I work in healthcare and it’s always fun to have patients come in with things like appendicitis – which would have absolutely killed them 150 years ago-and have them fixed up and healthy in just a few days.

    But considering we’re in the middle of a 5 year global anxiety attack (I might be projecting haha), the statement misses the mark

  7. ElleE says:

    Sure Barry, good insight. The world hasn’t changed – our ability to communicate has and we have to figure this out-really fast before FB topples another gov/t. IDK what to do about misinformation and all of that but you are BHO and you and your powerful friends sure do. Drop the Mr. Rogers routine or just stop talking – that is topic #1.

    Sebastian Maniscalco observed that the internet got all of the deplorables out of their parents basements and their chat rooms made them feel like intellectual giants. They actually catapulted themselves out of barstools into Congress and managed to keep their hatred and ignorance intact during the process; we are still dealing with this as a nation.

    On the Positive Side: The internet also brought us Celeb!tchies together to be like, hells to the no, you are not going “To Diana” Meghan Markle right in front of us, and we also loudly agreed that whites and sheriffs are going to have to accept that the 14th Amendment is a real thing now, and slavery is never coming back and Blacks are going entitled to due process, same as whites get, so you can’t just shoot Black Americans anymore and have not been able to for over 150 years and we keep telling you guys this and you keep doing it….and you can’t take our US Capitol and plot to end AOC and get away with any of this without us creating a nice internet archive that Jeff Bez0s is never going to take down and is easily searchable.

    Barry, plz…

  8. Case says:

    I agree that the world is healthier and better educated than it has been throughout history. Kinder, though? The selfishness and cruelty this pandemic has brought out in people has been kind of shocking to me. The amount of nasty comments I see on social media when someone says they’re nervous about going back to work, or about relaxing mask mandates, or want to talk about the importance of vaccines, genuinely frightens me. The vitriol people have toward others, toward STRANGERS, is intense, and the pandemic has amplified that so much. The amount of “well just stay home” comments toward people with genuine health concerns makes me ill. So many people lack compassion and basic decency. So no, I can’t agree we’re kinder than ever before. So many people have proven themselves to be heartless a-holes in the last year and a half.

    • Evenstar says:

      I think by and large it IS kinder. Most places don’t burn people at the stake as witches anymore, the treatment of the mentally ill and intellectually and physically disabled has generally vastly improved, LGBTQ rights have been advancing rapidly all over the globe, husbands can’t force their wives to get lobotomies, etc. That’s not to say nothing can be improved upon and there is still always violence, but I would rather be alive today than any other time in history.

  9. Nev says:

    His caution to speak more freely for someone on his position sometimes I think is only a attitude a black personality can really understand. I feel him.

  10. Jaded says:

    It’s easy to say when you live in a luxe, cloistered compound instead of wondering how you’re going to pay your rent or mortgage, you’ve had to sell your car, you’ve lost your job and you don’t know how you’re going to put food on the table, and God forbid you catch covid and have to be hospitalized with minimal health coverage. I love the Obamas but that comment rubs me the wrong way. Mass murders are happening daily, the MAGAts are running amok, there’s a very good chance of another insurrection as the US moves towards mid-terms, plus war, famine, climate change, genocide, pandemic….no, I’d say the world is in a very dangerous state right now.

    • Darla says:

      100%

    • BnlurNforever says:

      And yet, it is still accurate to say this is the kindest period in human history so far. History minor here and that statement is actually a fact. So think with all we are presently dealing with how much worse it was at any other time. It’s perspective I suppose, we are alive now, not then and now seems pretty awful so saying it used to be worse doesn’t feel helpful no matter how true.

    • AMA1977 says:

      So much enemy of the good being the perfect on this board right now. And truthfully, usually. He’s right, progress is not linear. Two steps forward, one step back. There will be regression and battles lost and backlash, but you persevere and make strides over time. Focusing on all that is wrong with the world at the exclusion of what is right is not an outlook that I can embrace. Hope is transformative and beautiful.

    • Robin says:

      Jaded. Agreed. What world is he speaking of? The bit of the western world his feet are standing on? Huge swathes of the world and its populations would laugh a wry laugh.

  11. Soupie says:

    I agree with Kaiser’s take that we are not healthier, kinder and better educated. Let’s see where the internet takes us over the next 20 years – if the planet is still here.

    I also agree that Barack Obama is holding back. He has been on the receiving end of the most highly classified Intel in the world and probably still is to a certain extent.

  12. Darla says:

    Nope sorry. Obama has a responsibility to sound the alarm. If it weren’t for his outright stupid choice of a Republican FBI director, James Comey, we would never have had Trump in the WH. And then he goes and tells Comey that he doesn’t blame him for what happened. Well, ain’t that nice. Of course he doesn’t blame Comey, if he (correctly) blamed Comey, he would have to (correctly) blame himself. He also allowed Mitch McConnell to order him to stand down on the Russia info. Now he talks a bunch of bs when we are severely, and I mean severly, at risk for the end of American Democracy.

    I am so over him and I am so over keeping my mouth shut about it.

    • Robin says:

      I agree with you Darla on the need to talk objectively about Obama. See my comment below, which is different from yours but expresses a similar frustration.

  13. jferber says:

    Just looking at his picture gives me joy and comfort. I almost feel I’m in heaven looking at him. I don’t agree with the statement, because I believe our country’s democracy is in deep peril. But I will always continue to love and cherish Obama and Biden.

  14. Robin says:

    I really can’t see that it is healthier and kinder. There are a lot of words chucked around to make it seem so, but those words are in response to a world that is just as nasty as it ever was, only in different ways. My daughter is getting bullied. It’s online. It’s a different form of bullying from the old classroom type but it’s the same. On a world stage, I don’t see it either. Perhaps Obama wants to think/hope it is because of his wishy washy approach to global politics in the Middle East. And I speak as a left winger who absolutely misses him! I am not going to comment on his internal US politics because it is not my place. I hope this comment appears under Darla’s because although not the same, I sense Darla’s frustration with liberals, such as myself, feeling we can’t say anything negative about him.

  15. Meg says:

    I think the response of the britney spears documentary is an example of the public being kinder. I know ive grown in realizing my own internalized misogyny and gotten better at spotting it and what im really mad about.
    I remember him calling jon stewart to the white house when he was still doing the daily show and he told jon to be more positive because people needed to be encouraged to get involved and doom & gloom isnt going to do that which i agree with i love jon oliver but so often feel down about how many bad things happen in the world.

  16. Eurydice says:

    I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’m a bit older than most here, but I remember a lot of things that weren’t possible – things that would effectively end your life. Outed as gay? – forget about work, friends and family. Got pregnant? – your academics/career was over. Born Black? – forget about everything. My mother couldn’t get credit in her name. Women in science or finance or higher education – my high school guidance counselor told me I could only ever be a school teacher or nurse…until I got married. People died every day from conditions that can now be corrected through day surgery. Dentists thought children didn’t have developed nervous systems, so they didn’t feel pain. Every girl I knew was terrified of getting pregnant – and birth control caused cancer. Every boy I knew was terrified of being drafted – 58,000 US military died in Vietnam.

    And now that I’m ranting, I realize that I’m not really that old – like, I’m not 100, this isn’t ancient history. And you don’t really have to go that far back to see some amazing changes. For heaven’s sake, we’re commenting on something our first Black president said. Ok, rant over, but I encourage people to take a look at recent history, at what was unknown and unacceptable then and what we know and accept now.

    • BnlurNforever says:

      This, this, this and I’m relatively young, but a student of history. We’ve come a long arse way and YES, we have just a long a way to go. Maybe that’s what he was saying.

    • Christine says:

      Thank you, I needed to read this.

  17. CC2 says:

    By most objective measures, we are happier/healthier/safer. So no shade from me. The issue is more about whether we should accept where we are (no we can do better, much better).

    • Eurydice says:

      Absolutely, 100% this. By recognizing progress we understand that we’re not helpless – we can do better.

  18. Isa says:

    I don’t think he’s technically wrong, but we still have so far to go.