Introduction: What the Rest of the World Knows
There are real solutions to our problems in the U.S., and we might find them by learning from the rest of the world.
It was a bitter reality to witness residents in this country having to fend for themselves against the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions have lost their jobs and homes. Hundreds of thousands have lost their lives.
The pandemic has brought home some undeniable truths about the way our country is run, and specifically, how it stacks up against the rest of the world.
We watched as other countries confidently and compassionately took care of people—putting their lives, their needs first. Their response to the pandemic demonstrated the exact function of social safety nets. Some Nordic countries were able to shut down and still support their residents. If we’d simply even had an honest federal response, we could have acted sooner with testing and contact tracing, protecting more people and limiting the economic damage.
Our editorial team noticed that while so many in the United States were suffering, governments in Asia, Africa, and Europe were putting their people first. We kept seeing helpful policies that we wished we had here, and wanted to know how we could get them.
In the face of increasing climate catastrophe as well as pandemics, the “Better Ideas” issue explores the structures and systems in other countries that not only save lives during chaos, but also provide a better quality of life.
Did you know there’s a 25% tipping point to creating social change? We didn’t either.
In this issue, social scientist Damon Centola’s new research reveals how social change happens—how long it takes for an idea to catch on. According to Centola, for beliefs and behaviors held by a few to become dominant we just need to convince 25% of the population to embrace a new idea.
Here are some of the better ideas you’ll also read about: Places that decided rehabilitation is a better answer than incarceration. Norway’s economy that prioritizes people. Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation process. Eleven examples of inspired policies and practices around the globe. And, we’ll give you a peek into what an ecological civilization can look like through the lens of an Indigenous community in Ecuador’s Cotacachi highlands who practice the philosophy Buen Vivir, the Good Life.
As media report the threat of another COVID-19 surge and uncertain impacts from the election, we can find inspiration in this issue. There are real solutions to our problems in the U.S., and we might find them by learning from the rest of the world.
Zenobia Jeffries Warfield, YES! executive editor