Humanity Is Becoming Increasingly Less Violent, with One Exception

Dr. Steven Pinker, Pulitzer prize-winning author and Harvard psychology professor, writes, “Today we may be living in the most peaceful era in our species’ existence.” He acknowledges: “In a century that began with 9/11, Iraq, and Darfur, the claim that we are living in an unusually peaceful time may strike you as somewhere between hallucinatory and obscene.” Pinker points out, wars make headlines, but there are fewer conflicts today, and wars don’t kill as many people as they did in the Middle Ages, for instance. Also, global rates of violent crime have plummeted in the last few decades. Pinker notes that the reason for these advances are complex but certainly the rise of education, and a growing willingness to put ourselves in the shoes of others has played its part.

via Humanity Is Becoming Increasingly Less Violent, with One Exception — Religious Violence | Alternet.

This article touches on one of the issues with the human condition in the modern era: we have access to vastly more information about pain and suffering and death than we were ever build to deal with

The level of grief and psychological pain humans can experience from the loss of life can be crippling.   By opening our psyche to full and total amount of death and destruction that occurs “normally” in our entire species, we have to a degree overwhelmed ourselves in our conception of what we, as a whole, are experiencing.

The upside to this is that our aversion to pain and suffering, and our awareness of how much of it there is, leads directly to the data Dr. Pinker is highlighting.  

The more we are aware of suffering, the more likely we are to combat it, and the less of it there is.

The Eye In the Sky Don’t Lie

Google maps give close-up view of U.N. refugee camps – Yahoo! News

Rebecca Moore, head of Earth Outreach for Google, said the browsable, high-definition pictures of humanitarian crisis zones stood to captivate a mass audience that may not otherwise see them.

Many of the 350 million people who have downloaded Google Earth use it to scan for holiday destinations or to see what other corners of the world look like from above. The sharp satellite images are updated about every month, though in some places they are older and in others no public shots exist.

Moore told a packed audience of aid experts at the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) headquarters that they could add video interviews of refugees, photographs of displacement crises and educational text to the satellite backdrop to educate even casual users about unfolding crises.

“Use Google Earth to tell your story,” she urged.

We are moving slowly, inexorably, towards a globally available view of the globe.  Now we just need to get something close to real-time info, get rid of tribal mentalities, and eat the rich and everything will be fine an dandy…until the aliens come.