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Less Violence

Dear all,

Last week I found a paper based on a book by Steven Pinker called The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. It said that humankind is moving toward ending war and violence worldwide. There is still a lot of work to do, but I think the information Steven Pinker has collected can be of help against all the discouragement, numbness, and despair that can come with watching and listening to the news about all the violence still happening at this moment.

He says that right now there are eleven big conflicts on our planet, while around 1990 there were twenty-six. The number of people dying from war and terrorism is down: in the 1950s it was twenty-two out of a hundred deaths, in the 1980s it was five out of every hundred, and now it is one and a half per hundred. The number of murders also went down in the last thirty-five years in many countries, including the United States and the Netherlands, often by more than fifty percent.

Please do not stop discharging early terror, and please keep being informed without getting too overwhelmed. Keep looking for hopeful news as well!

Much love,

Wytske Visser

International Commonality Reference
Person for the Care of the Environment

Ljouwert, Fryslan, the Netherlands


Dear Wytske,

 I am reading the book you mentioned. It is long (eight hundred pages), very well researched, and very hopeful! It documents the remarkable reduction in human violence over several millennia and seems to fit closely with Harvey Jackins’s idea of the “upward trend.” It suggests, with a lot of evidence, that we are living in the most peaceful time ever in human history, though our global media present so many images of violent conflict that it is easy to assume this isn’t true. The book and its findings are often my new and good at the start of a session.

My impression halfway through the book is that we are certainly becoming more rational as well as less violent. It shows how very irrational practices (like witch burning) that persisted for many centuries would quite suddenly disappear, not by themselves but because of changes in human thought brought about by social, cultural, and political change. It makes me feel that Tim Jackins is right to say that we could end racism this century. It also gives me more hope that we can, and probably will, reverse global warming.

Pinker shows that rational practices are able to spread through and between societies and can be initiated by a very small group of people. For example, he attributes a lot of change to a handful of Enlightenment philosophers who questioned the rationality of long-practised violent activities. Perhaps we in RC are having a similar effect. Our care-of-the-environment goal that includes the ending of all oppressions could well be having as powerful effect as the Enlightenment philosophers had.

There is still a lot to discharge about. Atrocities are still happening around the world. And, as we know better than most, we are carrying around distresses passed down from our ancestors. But I find it encouraging to know how far we have come as a species and that we may be much closer than it feels to the goal of a rational society.

With love, and appreciation for your leadership,

Rod Mitchell

Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list
for leaders in the care of the environment

* A goal adopted by the 2013 World Conference of the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities: That members of the RC Community work to become fully aware of the rapid and unceasing destruction of the living environment of the Earth. That we discharge on any distress that inhibits our becoming fully aware of this situation and taking all necessary actions to restore and preserve our environment.Distresses have driven people to use oppression against each other and carry out destructive policies against all of the world. A full solution will require the ending of divisions between people and therefore the ending of all oppressions. The restoration and preservation of the environment must take precedence over any group of humans having material advantage over others. We can and must recover from any distress that drives us to destroy the environment in our attempts to escape from never-ending feelings of needing more resource.

Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00