Remaining Positive in the Face of Tragedy
Columnist Mike Moran argues that violent crime is actually getting better.
On Dec. 14, 2012, our nation had its heart shattered into pieces when news broke of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. The second most fatal school shooting in U.S. history was made even more devastating when it was reported that most of the victims were between 5 and 10 years old.
As Americans are want to do, loving support quickly poured in from all over the nation in the form of fundraisers, vigils, and promises of a strong-counter protest to block out those sub- humans from the Westborough Baptist Church.
When such a heart-wrenching event occurs, it seems near-impossible to not get pessimistic and fearful over the existence of violence in our world. Right now media outlets and politicians are throwing around terms like "epidemic of gun violence" and "alarming trend." However, and I mean no disrespect to those who were affected both directly and indirectly by this horrendous event, I believe it’s important for us to remain positive and rational about the current state of violence in our world.
It feels counter intuitive (or even blasphemous in the world of media) to suggest that human violence is diminishing. That’s certainly not the message we here from our leaders, new casters, and that grumpy little guy named cynicism that resides in the darkest parts of all of our minds. But scientific study after scientific study has proved human violence, is lessening with time. In fact, one could even make the argument that, not only is violence declining, its vanishing off the planet at a rate unprecedented in human history, despite constant technological advancement in weaponry.
Take the U.S. for example. Though we have a relatively high crime rate for a developed nation, things are getting better all the time. Remember twenty years ago when we were all convinced the mainstreaming of gangsta-rap would turn our young ones into merciless, violent, thugs? Well, in fact the opposite has happened; violent crimes in America have halved since then.
Of course cities like our own Baltimore have gotten an un-proportionately small piece of this positive trend, but are none the less getting steadily more peaceful, as evidenced by urban violence in America reaching a forty year low in 2011.
It’s not just the first-world that is improving. IQ averages throughout most of the world, just won’t stop going up with every generation, and more intelligence means less killings. This tendency towards peace had been evolving since humans first started forming nations. In pre-state ages, about 15 percent of any given population died violently. By the 20th century, despite the advanced deadliness of weaponry, only about .7 percent of people did. The number has lowered even further in the 21st century.
Of course, no amount of data or statistics can erase the grief we feel when we hear about an innocent life taken, especially a child’s. And perhaps some good will come out of the ensuing hype; I’m certainly not opposed to more gun control and a closer look at a metal health system, broken since the Reagan era.
But I urge you to not allow the media circus surrounding the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting to feed into a negative world view. Although we will always mourn loss of innocent life, we should also remember to commend ourselves as a species for creating the most peaceful era mankind has ever seen and be grateful that tragic events like the Sandy Hook shooting, however heartbreaking, remain extremely rare.