It’s hard to believe this today in the aftermath of the Turkish Airport tragedy.
Stephen Pinker, scientist, has completed extensive research on violence. His research in summary says that yes there are wars, bombings and shootings now, but on a scale that is tiny compared to all other times in our history since 1200 AD.
And it’s primarily because we are more connected now to other people around the world than in previous times. One of the major reasons Pinker puts forward for this, is literature. Through literature we have read about other peoples’ lives and seen that they are connected to ours because in essence we are much the same. The same challenges, the same struggles, the same relationships, the same pain. This has meant that our stomach for violence against each other has decreased. And it has decreased across many headings of violence from wars, to state violence to domestic violence – all these figures show a marked decline consistently since the 1200’s.
It was sobering for me to read recently that in Ypres in 1915, one hundred thousand young men died in one day in WW1. This is too huge a figure of loss for me to even contemplate.
The media are simply interested in stories but these stories are not representative of actual statistics. The stories are true in themselves but they do not show trends and are not supported by statistics or research. The media has a responsibility to report in a balanced way. Many people don’t feel safe at the moment and the media, by dwelling on these stories for me actually fuels more violence in our psyches.
It’s important that I don’t let myself get caught up the drama of all the current media stories and know and feel in myself that now is truly the safest time. And the trend is that the world is getting safer. Pinker monitors the figures every year to confirm that the violence is still decreasing and we are in fact safer each year.
The bombings in Turkey are atrocious and it saddens me that as humans we still do these things to each other. I must however not go into the fear the media is stirring up and feel the safety of the time we live in based on all the science and research.
The link to Steven Pinkers Edinburgh University talk which is excellent – http://youtu.be/o5X2-i_poNU His book is “The Better Angels of our Nature”.