I had an interesting conversation with my seniors the other day. It was Monday morning and they were talking about the news of the weekend and the world at large. One of them said “The world today is far more violent than it used to be”. I countered with the question, “Do you think the world is more violent, or is it that we are shown more coverage of the world’s violence due to the availability of satellites, telephones and the internet”?
This question was discussed for a number of minutes with the consensus among everyone that the world is far more violent than the one that they remember from their past.
Interestingly, I went looking for a photo to illustrate this post on Google just now. I typed in the search term “The World Today” and hundreds of photos filled my screen. Photos of war, starvation, refugees, soldiers, disasters, suffering and religious extremism. Peppered among these photos were brighter ones of quotes about change, royal weddings, technology and animals. The world is certainly a paradox.It is a question I’ve been thinking about all week though. Especially in light of the recent tragedy in Belgium. As heart rending and atrocious as this was, there are tragedies taking place every day throughout the world that find no coverage by the major news outlets.
In the 1970s an Australian band called Sky Hooks sang a song called “Horror Movie”. The lyrics are quite repetitive (hey, it’s a song lol) but the message is clear.
It’s a horror movie right there on my TV
Horror movie right there on my TV
Horror movie and it’s blown a fuse
Horror movie, it’s the six-thirty news
Horror movie, it’s the six-thirty news
And it’s shockin’ me right outta my brain
The fact is that every day, tragedies and horrors are occurring.
Is the world becoming more violent? I would offer the opinion that due to the constant barrage of violence in our media and the ready availability of violent movies and video games, we have become somewhat inured to it all. I believe that many of us have adopted the stance that as long as it isn’t happening to us personally, we can deal with it.
I still ask the question though. Is the world more violent?
I have just finished reading the book “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand. I picked this book up after my family were watching the movie of the same name (directed by Angelina Jolie). I couldn’t watch it. I have this thing that I struggle to view what I call ‘unnecessary violence’ but I can read about it (go figure). I think it has something to do with the way my mind filters stuff. (If I didn’t have this ability I’m sure I would never have been able to read all of the Game of Thrones books. 😉 )
Anyway, for those of you not familiar with “Unbroken”, it tells the story of U.S. Olympian Louis Zamperini. Louis joined the Air Force at the outbreak of WWII. His plane went down and he spent 47 days drifting at sea before being captured by the Japanese and interred in a POW camp in Japan. The story is one of hope, resilience, gratitude and forgiveness and it will stay with me for a long time. However, the book also has a mass of data in relation to deaths of U.S. POWs at the hands of the Japanese during the war. It talks about the ‘Kill All’ policy held by Japan and quotes the statistics of those who were killed during the war. These numbers far outweigh the number of innocent people killed two days ago in Belgium. The numbers quoted in the book also don’t include Allied servicemen (Australians, British and others) who also lost their lives in places such as Changi.
I could go on and remind you all of the atrocities committed by the Nazis against the Jews or the mass graves found in Bosnia and Sarajevo. And I struggle to forget the genocide of Rwanda.
So what is the answer to my question? Is the world more violent today?
My personal opinion is that the world hasn’t become more violent. It is my belief that the violence has always been there but that it has become more commonplace to see and hear about it in our technological age.
On the other side of that argument, I also believe that in this day and age, there is a greater lack of respect for fellow human beings and basic values are being eroded.
Whatever the answer to the question though, I hold the solemn belief that change, love and peace begin with us as individual.
For all the bad in the world, there is also so much good and it is the good that we need to remember. It is the good that will sustain us.