The world may be becoming a less violent place according to recent studies. While the numbers of persons affected by violence may be large, as a percentage of population a decline is noticeable. For instance, battlefield deaths in the 20th century occurred at a rate of 60 persons for every 100,000 people (with two World Wars and its genocides). The current rate is 0.3 persons dying in battle per 100,000 people. Stepping back far enough to pay attention to the trend is difficult when the daily news brings us real stories with real blood and real violence … may this trend continue.
It seems as if violence is everywhere, but it’s really on the run.
Yes, thousands of people have died in bloody unrest from Africa to Pakistan, while terrorists plot bombings and kidnappings. Wars drag on in Iraq and Afghanistan. In peaceful Norway, a man massacred 69 youths in July. In Mexico, headless bodies turn up, victims of drug cartels. This month eight people died in a shooting in a California hair salon.
Yet, historically, we’ve never had it this peaceful.That’s the thesis of three new books, including one by prominent Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker. Statistics reveal dramatic reductions in war deaths, family violence, racism, rape, murder and all sorts of mayhem.
In his book, Pinker writes: “The decline of violence may be the most significant and least appreciated development in the history of our species.”