Stephen Pinker’s book gives hope and confidence.
In times of anxiety and uncertainty about the future, it is difficult to get carried away with the problems and adventures of book heroes. Over the past month, I’ve started reading one art book after another, but I couldn’t focus on novels or short stories.
Stephen Pinker’s weighty volume “The Best of Us: Why the World’s Violence Has Less” was an gratifying exception. At first glance, almost a thousand pages of popular science reading look scary, but… The book is written in accessible language, contains graphics and illustrations, but it does not even encourage her to read. The main thing is the author’s idea that the progress of mankind is not a chimera, but a reality and that today we live better than our ancestors.
You may object: what about the common moans of the good old days? After all, before the grass was green, and the girls are beautiful?
If we follow the author into the history of mankind, we will learn many unflattering facts that are not written about in textbooks. And I understand why. Children should not be aware of the widespread practice of torture, the extermination of cities and peoples, and public entertainment in the form of wheeling, hanging, etc. . Compare these practices with our leisure. Now no one will think of the public burning of cats and dogs, quite popular entertainment just a few centuries ago. Such things are simply unthinkable for us.
What laid the foundation for these changes? According to Pinker, this is the spread of printing, reading and general education. The ideas of humanism first spread among the ruling classes, but gradually spread to larger sections of the population. IQ levels, measured since the late 19th century, have been rising steadily around the globe. The level of well-being is also growing. People are increasingly inclined to trade and cooperate rather than to armed conflict.
And what about the world wars of the XX century? They were initiated by only a few lone leaders at the time, but killed and millions were killed. The reasons for what happened are discussed in detail by the author in the chapter “Ideology”. The routine of evil and its impact on the minds of ordinary people have been studied by psychologists in the second half of the last century. I highly recommend reading this chapter, it answers many questions.
Unfortunately, the path to a bright future for all mankind is not linear, history moves in leaps and bounds, sometimes rolling back. But a step back must be followed by a step forward. Remember how our ancestors lived only a hundred years ago, remember the achievements of progress and improving the quality of life of ordinary people. And try not to lose hope that tomorrow will be better than yesterday.
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