IT feels like every day things just seem to go from bad to worse right?
Conflict, violence, natural disasters, corruption.
The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer and we will soon run out of resources unless something drastic is done.
That’s the picture most people in the West see us in the media and carry around in their heads.
It’s stressful and misleading.
In fact, the majority of the PNG’s population are middle income earners.
Perhaps they are not what we think of as middle class, but they are not living in extreme poverty.
Their girls go to school, their children get vaccinated.
Perhaps not on every single measure, or every single year, but step by step, year by year.
In the past 40 years, life expectancy has more than doubled.
Although the PNG faces huge challenges, we have made tremendous progress.
The histrionic views draw people to the most negative answers.
It is not caused simply by out-of-date knowledge.
Just as we should not cut out all sugar and fat, we should not ask a surgeon to remove the parts of our brain that deal with emotions. But we need to learn to control our drama intake.
It is absolutely true that there are many bad things in this country.
Violence too is rising.
Over-fishing and the deterioration of the seas are truly annoying.
The list of endangered species is getting longer.
But while it is easy to be aware of all the bad things happening in the world, it’s harder to know about the good things.
Over the past 40 years of independence, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty has almost halved.
But in online polls, in most provinces, fewer than 10 per cent of people know this.
Remember that the media and activists rely on drama to grab your attention; negative stories are more dramatic than positive ones; an it is easy to construct a story of crisis from a temporary dip pulled out of its context of a long-term improvement.
When you hear about something terrible, calm yourself by asking: if there had been a positive improvement, would I have heard about that?
Even if there had been hundreds of larger improvements, would I have heard?
My guess is you feel that me saying that Papua New Guinea is getting better is like me telling you that everything is fine, and that feels ridiculous.
I agree. Everything is not fine.
We should still be very concerned.
As long as there are plane crashes, preventable child deaths, endangered species, climate change skeptics, male chauvinists, crazy dictators, toxic waste, journalists in prison, and girls not getting an education, we cannot relax.
Economic crisis, employment rates, falling, infrastructure deteriorating, cash following dying and many bad things happening.
I am a proud PNG citizen and I believed in change, I mean government change.