The more advanced nations are another story. Wrote essayist Jim Hoagland for The International Herald Tribune: "The arrival of the year 2000 finds more of the world's population living in good health and prosperity, educated and secure from territorial aggression than any other moment in history." At face value this reads as a somewhat overoptimistic assessment, but Mr. Hoagland does acknowledge that "more of the world's people also live in an awareness of their own relative or absolute poverty than ever before."
Approximately a billion of us are overweight, while another billion go hungry. Six billion of us live on the planet, the human family having doubled in 40 years. World population remains large and growing even though the 20th century brought unprecedented mass death and destruction, primarily by means of war and other human-induced catastrophes. What an age of incredible paradox!
Perhaps the main problem in this crisis-torn world is leadership, or the lack of it. Although Africa is a case in point, it is by no means the only continent burdened by bad leadership. Koffi Annan, secretary—general of the United Nations, despairs of the leaders of his own continent. He recently commented: "The quality of the leaders, the misery they have brought to their people and my inability to work with them to turn the situation around, are very depressing ... In many countries the wrong kind have made it to leadership. They seek power for the sake of power and for their own aggrandisement rather than having a real understanding of the need to use power to improve their countries" (The Sunday Times).
Many national leaders clamor for more weapons of mass destruction, assuring us we need more firepower to ensure peace and prosperity. To have peace we need to be armed to the teeth—yet another paradox. (Sources: The International Herald Tribune, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Guardian [all London], The Houston Chronicle.)