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Are we Becoming Less Violent?

Are humans totally depraved, plagued by original sin, with no hope of ever living together in peace… or is the world actually becoming a less violent place? With constant media coverage of wars and conflict throughout the world, with the popularity of violent video games and with the plethora of movies/TV shows with shootings, blood and gore, it would be easy to come to the conclusion that we are living in extremely violent times.

But, Harvard scholar, Steven Pinker, author of the 2011 book “The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence” studied the statistics over hundreds of years and concludes that “we may be living in the most peaceful era of humankind!”  Listen to Pinker’s interview by Paul Ingles on Peace Talks Radio. Watch a video here.

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Good Radio Shows, Inc. produces the program that is regularly heard on radio station KKRN 88.5 FM, Tuesdays at 11 AM and Saturday mornings at 10 AM.

“The key to explaining the decline of violence, Pinker argues, is to understand the inner demons that incline us toward violence (such as revenge, sadism, and tribalism) and the better angels that steer us away. Thanks to the spread of government, literacy, trade, and cosmopolitanism, we increasingly control our impulses, empathize with others, bargain rather than plunder, debunk toxic ideologies, and deploy our powers of reason to reduce the temptations of violence.”

As David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor note, “Reinhold Niebuhr associated despair with our failed attempts to procure security for ourselves, optimistically pretending that we are not subject to the vicissitudes of creatureliness. Despair is characterized primarily by the conspicuous absence of theological hope. Humans meet despair when they cannot imagine God’s promised alternative future.”

What is your hope in an alternative future?