Clearly it’s been a difficult month in America, and around the world. Just yesterday .000000011% of the world’s population was killed in an act of terrorism in France. In writing this, I don’t wish to diminish in any way the loss, the suffering, and the feelings of sorrow which resulted from the incidents of terror and violence which have taken place from Istanbul to Dallas in recent weeks.
Like laser beams though, channeled through our LCD windows to the world, we continue to allow streams of violence and destruction into our minds which are highly disproportionate in relation to the world’s population and activity. The images we invite into our minds forge thoughts and conclusions in our heads that skew reality so severely that most of us fail to see and appreciate the world we actually live in.
I say this not as an ignorant man tossing a mindless opinion about freely. Rather, as man who invests a great deal of his spare time attempting to learn and reconcile the human condition and the directionality of society by way of books, journals, and lectures from some the world’s leading critical thinkers.
I also write this as someone whose own daughter passed through the international terminal at the airport in Istanbul, just days prior to a man blowing himself up there. She had walked within yards of where that incident took place.
Beyond The Information Beams…
Today, roughly 7.1 billion people did not get blown up, shot, held hostage, or engage in violent protests. Many of those 7.1 billion people had amazing sex. Some did not. A lot of those people started new jobs while others got deservedly fired due to a lack in their productivity. Somewhere in southern Europe a young man tended a flock of sheep thinking very little about anything but the safety of the flock.
Elsewhere, a woman took a coworker’s lunch from the refrigerator of the breakroom at work, without fist asking permission. Directly over our heads, a pilot both drank and slept on the job, while most others were careful not to. A Rabbi married a young couple in Brooklyn, and a new baby was born in a thatch hut somewhere on an island in the pacific. Since our televisions and laptops weren’t aimed at any of these, the broad actions of others across the world did little to help cultivate our social sensibilities.
Though we think we control our LCD windows to the world, and to some degree we do, our minds are fed primarily by a finite stream of for-profit institutions which make greater profits when we are compelled to stay tuned for more details. Dog bites man isn’t a story. Man bites dog is.
MSNBC, CNN, FOX News, and all the others are masters of seeking out and beating to death the man bites dog stories, and we are hungrier than ever to absorb them because shock and awe provide us with an addictive stimulation. I can no longer tell the difference between NPR and Yahoo news online.
The Directionality Of Culture…
I am to cultural anthropology as sea cucumber is to semiconductor, so I’m not going to site books, data sources or anything else to support this opinion, but I will argue until my dying breath this clear truth…
Cumulatively, from the day of my birth until my ashes feed the fishes, the span of my life will have taken place during the most peaceful time on earth. With few exceptions, every age of man could say the same thing – that theirs was the most peaceful time on earth.
This is not to suggest that during my lifetime or any time there have not been spikes of violence and gross atrocities committed by horrible people. However, as social media is brimming with far too many of these violent times we live in observations, it just isn’t true – not in the big picture. The most violent cultures on earth were hunter-gatherer societies, and it’s been getting more peaceful, on average, with every subsequent generation. Perhaps the best way to comprehend that statement is this:
Imagine a ball is held at arm’s length. That ball, in that place and at that moment, is the most violent time on earth – hunter-gatherer times. The hand lets go the ball.
The most peaceful time on earth, the one our descendants will inherit, will be when the ball is resting firmly on the ground.
When the hand releases the ball to hit the ground, the ball bounces up, but then it falls again. It bounces up, but not as high, hits the ground. Bounces up again, and so-on, over hundreds of thousands of years.
Eventually, after a good bit of bouncing, the ball will rest peacefully on the ground.
The direction we are headed is one of a global culture of cooperation – of the ball resting on the ground. It won’t get there without some bounces, but the trajectory is clear, after each bounce we become a little more peaceful. There is no shortage of good data that demonstrates this in clear terms.
The need to be informed exists within all of us. It’s incumbent upon us to stay informed. I’ll make a pitch here though, that we take time to look and live beyond the technologies that feed our minds electronically, since they account for so little of what takes place around the world each day. Speak to strangers. Step into new places. Don’t let fears govern our choices. Be well… rc
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