I like to start each year with a week of reflections on the big picture.
The worst dictator in the world died.
The worst terrorist in the world was killed.
Three Arab dictatorships were overthrown, which is good; by their own people; which is better; with Western help, but not Western domination, which is best of all.
Three other Arab dictatorships may be overthrown the same way. As well as the military dictatorship of Burma.
The world economy is slowly improving. Europe has been able to avert economic collapse, and is slowly dealing with their currency and debt crisis.
China is cooperating more with the West in trade and in stabilizing Western debt. China has also been helpful in containing North Korea.
Conditions are improving for women's education, careers, public lives, and general freedom throughout nearly all nations of the world.
Conditions are improving for sexual minorities in most nations of the world.
Religious freedom is improving in most nations of the world.
World population seems to be stabilizing.
Let us not take for granted stable democracies in almost every corner of the Western hemisphere, the Northern hemisphere, and most of the Pacific island nations.
The generation-long trend of declining violence continues in nearly all nations.
All the great powers are working together to reduce the threat of war, both among great powers, and among little states.
To be sure, there are a few very bad actors in the world, some of them controlling states. And there are always uncertainties to worry about. The world economy is recovering, but not recovered. The global warming trend may be getting worse. And bad things happen to individuals every day.
Still, the world as a whole is better off than it was a year ago.
There is a great deal to be thankful for, and hopeful about, in the world today.