Is the World Really Becoming Less Violent?

spring muttering post a retired pope, an Arab summer delayed and a would-be rapist elected campus leader

Kevin Spacey’s “House of Cards” has gone viral on Netflix .

For those who missed it, it is a political TV show in which Spacey plays Frank Underwood, a longtime congressman and the current House majority whip who, following his assistance in ensuring the election of Present Garret Walker, is denied the appointment of Secretary of State promised earlier to him. He and his wife Clair, a development activist, begin seeking out pawns in a political power game against Walker. The couple is unscrupulous about lying about their prayer life, or praying for the liar’s sake. (Also, the two are in an open marriage and the fact that the husband has been sleeping with a young journalist to sway public opinion is not unknown to the wife.) The Los Angeles Times describes the show as “deliciously spiteful”

(http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/showtracker/la-et-st-house-of-cards-review-netflix-20130201,0,5327425.story). Perhaps the show is too extreme of an example of immorality.

As a fiction it may say nothing about the state of morality in our actual world (the reality of the political world is of a different matter). And the audience is likely to treat the story as some incident outside of everyday social norms that justify their rampant immorality.

Nonetheless, dismayed as we are by the dismal outlook on human morality, how do we look at Steven Pinker’s argument that says “We are living in the most peaceful times of our specie’s existence,” that is the correct understanding of the condition of violence in our society. He argues that the world has become less violent over the last millennium.

Is the world really becoming less violent?

If we look around us – drones have intensified violence, the world’s diminishing distance in between people has enabled us to observer clearer than ever the apathy we have shown to permit everyday violence happen without taking any preventative measure against it. It doesn’t have to be some far off land like Israel or Syria. Just on this very campus where it is possible for the sexual assault perpetuator to not only be present in the victim’s life but also to represent that person’s voice as a student leader. In classroom, we discuss whether racial-consciousness is better than racial blindness; outside classroom, minorities protest “racist rager party” (). The question we have to ask ourselves is: How do we celebrate human differences without falling into existing racial and ethnic hierarchy?

Violence is being done. In Johan Galtung’s “Violence, Peace and Peace Research” article, violence is present when “human beings are being influenced so that their actual somatic and mental realizations are below their potential realizations” (http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/422690). Personal violence is easier to identify; Structural violence permeates our society.

The muttering of Sinead O’Connor (who is herself a sexual assault survivor) articulates well at the end of her song V.I.P the most abysmal thought that has haunted me lately. ()

Saying, “peace peace,” when there is no peace. Saying “all is well,” when nothing is well.

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