The Progress of Humanity

Humans are irrevocably flawed. We default to communication silos, we often steal when we can, we exploit each other. Wikipedia's list of ongoing conflicts is depressingly long.

And yet, we are less violent today as a species than at any point in our world's history - Steven Pinker's book on the subject is both sobering in revealing violent history and uplifting in showing how many fewer people are massacred these days. Some who dispute Steven Pinker's argument remind us that the deterrent of nuclear weapons might have a lot to do with this, but they concede that the overall numbers are down. In addition, increased global trade has drawn countries together in a way that makes true war impossible between an increasingly large world community.

This is not the state of humanity that all desire. ISIL and its peers seek an apocolyptic world of warlords, where violence and death are a regular part of life. They dream of a mass regression of humanity to an earlier, more brutal time when families were split and sunders by the whim of kings and dictators.

When attacks come out of this ideology - made events that seek to awaken our "reptile brains" and make us fear each other - it's a mistake to think of counter-pushes as "weak." On the contrary, our greatest warriors dreamed of creative days of peace, and maintaining peace is harder than creating way. Anyone can destroy, shoot a gun, or create chaos. Order, peace, and stability take work.

That's the cause that we dedicate ourselves to each time we vote in an election, or yell at each other on social media instead of doing violence, or help out a stranger only tied to us by our shared humanity. That's the dream of so many warriors in years past, and its why I have no doubt that ISIL and its peers will fall apart. However, there will always be others to take their place - the flaw isn't something we can eradicate.

We just have to keep proving each day that it's better to live in peace than to dream of war.