Olivier Lacan

Software bricoleur, word wrangler, scientific skeptic, and logic lumberjack.

It Gets Better

Written on April 14, 2011

I had an uncomfortably heated discussion with someone dear to me today about the "It Gets Better" video released by the lesbian, gay, bi and transexual employees of Apple Inc. today on YouTube (Adobe Systems employees released a similar video). It came as a shocking surprise to me that anyone would see these people talking about the struggles they went through and the peace and happiness they have achieved and find it anything else than uplifting. It wasn't for her. She found it depressing and was sad that we even had to wait so long to achieve something like this, having adults — many of them extremely successful and talented individual in some of the most renowned companies in America — discuss their difference so openly on camera.

The thought that they were doing this to help younger fellow human beings going through the same shit didn't reassure her, it seemed to make her angrier.

I didn't understand, I think I tried to, but I couldn't. I thought she may have something on her mind, something affecting her outlook on things, something bothering her and making her pessimistic. She denied it, but I honestly didn't want to accept that.

It was rude of me I'm sure, but I can't help it. Optimism isn't escapism. I don't ignore all the bad in the world to sleep better at night. But humanity has never done better. We've never lived so long, never known so much about ourselves, our planet and the Universe.

We've never been so peaceful either. It's something most people don't only find hard to believe, they refuse to.

Crime & warfare have decreased so much that most deaths today are due to age-related diseases, it's unprecedented in the history of man. Cardiovascular diseases — the greatest killer in the world — accounted for 30% of worldwide mortality in 2002. War & violent crimes (bundled together with suicide and other causes) are only responsible for 3%.

Diseases still rule the death toll. Yet if I had lived a mere 200 years ago all I could have hoped for was a mere 10 years to live past my upcoming twenty-sixth birthday. Today I can look forward to a good 50 years, perhaps much more.

That doesn't mean things are easy for everyone, and too recently racial and sexual discriminations are a harsh reminder of that. Yet once again, things are going better. It's not a fallacy to say that a black man born of an African father and and American mother at the head of the greatest superpower in the world is an outstanding event in a country that two centuries prior saw blacks as nothing more than inferior beings only fit for slavery.

And while the amoral defenders of morality still deny basic human and civil rights to homosexuals or anyone that challenges their narrow iron-age mentality, there too things are improving, around the world.

How many more moments of joy, pain, pleasure and sadness will we enjoy? How many more things will we have the opportunity to build? How many beautiful sunsets and moon rises will we have the chance to witness? How many people will we discover who will affect the course of our lives those we already met did? How many answers will we find and how many more questions will we think of?

I don't know.

All I know is that it gets better. But I couldn't always afford the perspective to see that, and fellow human beings' kind reminder would have helped.

I know that much.