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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In the face of all this negativity

It seems as though everyone is focusing on all the bad things that are happening either to or in the US--or both--or in the world and everyone assumes we're all going "to heck in a handbasket", as it were. So kudos and salutations to Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times to point out the things going right and well in the world: Are We Getting Nicer? 'It’s pretty easy to conclude that the world is spinning down the toilet.' So let me be contrary and offer a reason to be grateful this Thanksgiving. Despite the gloomy mood, the historical backdrop is stunning progress in human decency over recent centuries. War is declining, and humanity is becoming less violent, less racist and less sexist — and this moral progress has accelerated in recent decades. To put it bluntly, we humans seem to be getting nicer. That’s the central theme of an astonishingly good book just published by Steven Pinker, a psychology professor at Harvard. It’s called 'The Better Angels of Our Nature,' and it’s my bet to win the next Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction. 'Today we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species’ existence,' Pinker writes, and he describes this decline in violence as possibly “the most important thing that has ever happened in human history.'” So, this Thanksgiving, before you or your brother-in-law or whomever starts lamenting that we're going down the tubes, forward him to this fact-filled, history-drawn column. Maybe it will shut him up. Maybe it will give us all pause. And hope. Link:

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