Can We Be the Generation?

Owen Barder, the Europe Director at the Center for Global Development, published a blog post today titled “We can be the Generation….” He begins the post with a hopeful quote from a recent speech by UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

“Thirty years ago more than half the planet lived on the equivalent of $1.25 a day or less. Today it is around a fifth. This amazing story of human progress shows what’s possible. We can be the generation that eradicates absolute poverty in our world.”

Barder then goes on to quote generations of leaders, celebrities and politicians before Cameron. Some examples:

“It’s an amazing thing to think that ours is the first generation in history that really can end extreme poverty, the kind that means a child dies for lack of food in its belly. This should be seen as the most incredible, historic opportunity but instead it’s become a millstone around our necks. We let our own pathetic excuses about how it’s ‘difficult’ justify our own inaction. Let’s be honest. We have the science, the technology, and the wealth. What we don’t have is the will, and that’s not a reason that history will accept.” (Bono, in an interview to the World Association of Newspapers for World Press Freedom Day on May 3, 2004.)

Even in the 1970s:

“No child will go to bed hungry within ten years” (Henry Kissinger, First World Food Summit, Rome, 1974)

Or the 1960s:

Never before has man had such capacity to control his own environment, to end thirst and hunger, to conquer poverty and disease, to banish illiteracy and massive human misery. We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world–or to make it the last. (President John F. Kennedy, Address Before the 18th General Assembly of the United Nations, September 20, 1963)

My question is… is this blog post filled with hope and optimism? Or is it filled with depression and pessimism?

I recently wrote about how Lutherans (and the Lutheran theological tradition) are able to rise above simple optimism and pessimism to find hope in God’s promise. Does that apply here?

Read all of the quotes at Owen Abroad. Can we be the generation?