Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

Opinion

December 10, 2011

Another View

Good Times? Bad Times?

Knoxville —  

Yes, it seems like bad times. We have 535 supposedly grown-up people in Congress and they can’t create jobs or fix the deficit.  One third of us live in poverty; over eight percent of us are out of work; and we have the worst green house gas emissions in history.  On and on.  Most of us could think of even more bad news.
But I’m inspired by Nicholas Kristoff who wrote recently that human life may actually have become better.  That may be a hard sell in the face of what I usually write, but we are probably living in the most peaceable era in human existence.  Yes, even through two World Wars, the Holocaust, Hiroshima, Stalin’s murders, and Viet Nam plus Iraq, Darfur and 9/11 – only about 3% of humans world-wide died from human-caused catastrophe.  That’s in contrast to estimates for pre-colonial people on this continent who killed about 13% of each other each year, or during the Thirty Years War in Germany (1600’s) when about a third of the people died.  
Note:  as recently as 1900 world life expectancy was approximately age 30.  At least you didn’t have as long to be poor or unemployed. 
But getting back to less homicide in the 21st Century, there seems to be a growing global consensus that killing is wrong!  When leaders start exterminating groups of their population like Milosevic in Serbia, Assad in Syria, or our ancestors with the Native Americans, other countries speak up.  They even get the mass murderers to the International Criminal Court at The Hague.  Milosevic finally got there, and the last President of the Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, was taken there after 3,000 people died because he refused to concede in a UN-certified election.  This worldwide attempt at justice is new in our time.

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