This weekend, I started thinking about a conversation that I had with a friend I worked with several years ago. It has been a debate that has stayed with me, and I continue to ponder my answer to this day. The question is this: do you think there is more violence in the world today verses centuries ago?
At the time of the discussion, I argued in favor of the belief that the world is, and continues to grow, increasingly more violent. My friend, needless to say, opposed this view, and he presented a strong case. His feeling was that violence is no greater now than it was hundreds or even thousands of years ago. He felt that global communication increased the bandwidth of distribution to broadcast violent acts. Because of media coverage, violent atrocities can be easily read now, but not so in the past.
Effectively, what he argued is that violence happened to the same degree as it does today, but without the means of global communication people were unaware of the volume. Also, given the growth of the world’s population, statistically the number of violent acts would increase with human expansion. My friend took into account violence associated with wars; the holocaust, slavery etc., and he argued that the numbers would be comparable to today.
So why does the world seem more violent to me? Does it seem like that to you? What are your thoughts on this?