Monday, April 13, 2015

In a Handbasket

The world's going to hell in a handbasket.  Doesn't everyone know that?

The other day another coworker made an off hand comment about how society is crumbling.  'Everyone' knows the world is becoming a more violent place everyday, and 'everyone' is just wrong.  I've known this for many years.  It seems obvious to me.  I've recently been reading Steven Pinker's book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, which has really been driving the point home.

Well, the book is really about trying to explain the decline of violence over the course of human history, but the author knows that explaining that violence has in fact declined is an important first step.  To touch on some brief points:

Almost all ancient human remains we find show signs of violence, if not outright murder.
Torture was not only common thousands of years ago, it was a source of entertainment.
Just a hundred years ago executions were a source of entertainment in this country.

People like to idealize the simple peaceful lives of our hunter gather ancestors.  The truth is, the hunter gather societies that exist today are far more violent than the most dangerous cities in america.

People like to idealize other times in history, like America in the 1950's.  The truth is, they may have been about as peaceful as now for some people.  Other people were getting lynched, or repressed in some other way.  You might, and I say "might", want to have been a white man in 1950's america, but that's where it ends.

And this is to say nothing about the increase in literacy, or the advancements in medical science, and agriculture.  And how about entertainment?  A lot of people did a lot of staring off into space in the past.

Why is it so hard to accept we're living in a golden age of prosperity?  I think people are just never happy with what they have, and think, "There has to be more than this."  I think this life is amazing, and people should live it.

No comments:

Post a Comment