Is our world safer than our grandparents’?

Almost every week, stories about a scandal, a war, a disease, climate change, income inequality and a shaky economic recovery have dominated the news cycle, giving us all reasons to be terrified.”
Unfortunately, in an era of social media, we hear far more about isolated instances of barbarism than about enduring signs of hope.”

Turning on any news portal is probably going to give you an idea that we live in a violent, unpredictable and cruel world. The way of the media trying to help you create order in your entropic mind is by trying to bring out the most simple emotions of yours: fear, anger, surprise and disgust.

Comparing our world to the past will might give us another idea. Let’s get to that.

We lead our lives in a universe that wasn’t created for the comfort of us, humans. As Csíkszentmihályi argues:

“The foremost reason that happiness is so hard to achieve is that the
universe was not designed with the comfort of human beings in mind.
It is almost immeasurably huge, and most of it is hostilely empty and
cold. It is the setting for great violence, as when occasionally a star
explodes, turning to ashes everything within billions of miles. The rare
planet whose gravity field would not crush our bones is probably swim­
ming in lethal gases. Even planet Earth, which can be so idyllic and
picturesque, is not to be taken for granted. To survive on it men and
women have had to struggle for millions of years against ice, fire, floods,
wild animals, and invisible microorganisms that appear out of nowhere
to snuff us out.”
One of the ways on looking at the history of humanity is how we’ve tried to shape our environment so that it fits better to our needs from physiological needs all the way through safety, love and esteem to self-actualization.

Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs.svg
Wikipedia Commons

Have we succeeded?

 

Data shows we have.
In 2007 there are about 10.000 people dying yearly in wars. This number was over 500.000 in the late 1940s and it hasn’t been this low since WW2.
The world population is getting less poor than ever (although inequality is rising).
Homicide rates fall, the world is getting more democratic, violence against women and children decreasing.
As well as people living in poverty, child labour, income spent on food, infant mortality rates, average years of education, global literacy rates,
As Steven Pinker claims: “Violence has been in decline for thousands of years, and today we may be living in the most peaceable era in the existence of our species.”

Makes sense for you? It does for me. I never had to physically fight for survival. I’m not afraid at night on the street. I know that most of my salary is NOT spent on survival. One does not have to work more than 5 times 8 hours a week. My grandparents and parents have never even dreamt of traveling as much and as far as I’ve already ventured.

Things are getting better. But learning to control our mind so that we are able to appreciate all of it? It’s a task every single individual in every generation must learn…

Sources:
pri.org
New York Times
Psychology Today
Csíkszentmihályi: Flow The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Psychology Today
Singularity Hub
capx

 

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