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posted by MarkJMiller in Local

Is the world getting more peaceful?

May 8, 2012

You see it every time you turn on the news: unrest in the Middle East, heightening political division, riots, violent crime, threats of war, terrorist attacks.

With all this attention on the prevalence of violence, is it actually possible that we live in the most peaceful era of mankind, ever?

Possibly.

As the world becomes more globalized, democracy spreads, and overall access to education, healthcare, and basic necessities has increaced, so has mankind's motivation and propensity to war and kill and maim and rape has decreased.

At the same time, our attention to violence and the horrors of war--first through books and newspapers, then radio, and now through 24-hour televised news coverage and constant internet access-- has increased. This gives the impression that there's constantly something awful going on. And to be fair, there probably is. Still, it's probably at lower rates than in the past.

Indeed, this increased coverage and awareness further decreases violence. Signs of brewing war lead to peace talks between nations. Violent crime coverage leads to investigations and arrests, getting criminals off the streets.

When war is waged, it's more precise than before. Collateral damage is minimized as precision-guided weapons and small, well-trained teams become favored over large standing armies, big bombs, and invasion. Even though our ability to cause destruction has increased exponentially, our willingness to cause it has actually gone down.

The open warfare between nations as it occured for millenia is essentially nonexistant. A combination of mutually assured destruction, an international community that facilitates negotiation, and a growing economic interdependence make open warfare less and less attractive.

Today, what two nations are openly and actively at war? Tensions rise, threats are made, and decades-old declarations of war are never revoked. Yet war on a large scale, the kind that kills millions of people, simply hasn't happened in my lifetime, and becmes less likely by the year. Wars of the future are more likely to occur in the marketplace and the cyberworld than the battlefield.

I think there is an aspect of human nature that is prone to violence, and that it will probably never be completely stamped out. There's still the looming threat of terrorism, and of rogue states getting nuclear capabilities. People will always murder for selfish reasons. Population growth will strain economies and natural resources, tempting the strong to wake from the weak using force.

But I'm still optimistic that humankind is trending towards peacefullness, even if it appears otherwise in the news.

For more on world peace levels, check out

World More Peaceful Now Than Ever?

Global Peace Index

Perhaps not the best sources, but a good place to start.

Do you agree that peace is more prevalent, or that mankind has trended away from violence since the beginning of civilization? Do you think this trend can continue, or are we doomed to relapse towards violence?

 

 

 

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