This may seem odd coming from a blog that focuses on martial arts, weaponcraft, warfare and the ilk; but every time I hear the doomsayers sounding the alarm for Armageddon, saying that our times are the “most violent ever” and that our children are not safe to play in the yard I wonder if that is really true. Did our ancestors during the Great Depression and WWII think that the “end” had arrived any more or less than some people seem to believe today? During the Civil War did people believe that “the end of days” had arrived? Are things somehow worse now than they were then?
As a cop you would think that I would be more paranoid, but I think most cops come to the realization fairly quickly that the lions share of violent crime happens to and is perpetrated by a rather narrow segment of society. Yes, random violence can and does happen to innocent people…always has always will…and you cant live in denial of it. However, I believe we place ourselves at a statistically higher risk of early death through our everyday living; driving, poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, drinking and myriad other poor lifestyle choices, than we will ever be at risk of homicide, but we don’t live in fear of those mundane things.
Take child abduction. Yes it does happen, yes we should protect our children, BUT stranger abduction/murder is extremely rare. Due to the media frenzy it produces, everybody fears that their child could be next. Its unhealthy. The same thing with school shootings and terrorism. I am in agreement with Col. Grossman when he compares preparation for these events with fire safety. We have all sorts of measures in place for fire safety/survival; building codes, hoses, extinguishers, drills, fire departments etc. but we don’t give ourselves ulcers worrying that the building we are in could burst into flame, even though we know that it could happen and has happened to other people in the past. I believe that preparation for violence should be much the same thing. Plan for it, prepare for it, train for it, take steps to avoid it, but don’t live in fear of it or let it make your life miserable.
The video above is of one Mr. Steven Pinker, a prominent Canadian-American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, and author of popular science. Pinker is known for his wide-ranging advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind. Mr. Pinker’s speech offers hope and bit of perspective regarding just how “violent” our current society is in relation to human history. It turns out that “the good old days” were never as good as we thought they were.
Of course I also agree with his opinion about my chosen profession.
Adjudication by an armed authority appears to be the most effective general violence-reduction technique yet invented. Though we debate whether tweaks in criminal policy, such as executing murderers versus locking them up for life, can reduce violence by a few percentage points, there can be no debate on the massive effects of having a criminal justice system as opposed to living in anarchy. The shockingly high homicide rates of pre-state societies, with 10 to 60 per cent of the men dying at the hands of other men, provide one kind of evidence. Another is the emergence of a violent culture of honour in just about any corner of the world that is beyond the reach of the law. The inverse is true as well. When law enforcement vanishes, all manner of violence breaks out: looting, settling old scores, ethnic cleansing and petty warfare among gangs, warlords and mafias. This was obvious in the remnants of Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union and parts of Africa in the 1990s.