Overcoming unwarranted pessimism PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 02 March 2015 13:49



If you haven’t been kept awake by the thought of IS brutalities and the offshoots of  IS-inspired violence such as the Charles Hebdo killings and the Copenhagen shootings , then you are made of stronger stuff than I am.

But an article I came across recently written by George Will made me ask myself whether I am in fact suffering from,  in his words,  “panic bred by unwarranted pessimism.”  He then goes on to say that “worldwide violence has been receding, unevenly but strikingly, for centuries.”  Really?  He then cites a Harvard psychologist who gives several factors for the steep decline  in violence.  Among these is mentioned “ cosmopolitanism, meaning the decline of hostile parochialism due to literacy, travel, education, popular culture and mass media.”

I may be way out in left field with this but it is my impression that  mass media is one contributor to the strengthening of negative impressions we have of each other and thus increasing hostile reactions to certain groups.  When one reads the comments on Twitter and Facebook made by Muslims about non-Muslims and vice-versa I can’t accept that “hostile parochialism” is now less than before.

Perhaps I should check my viewing perspective of what is going on in the world. Recently I was reading an article in an international news magazine and the article referred to the times we are living in as The Age of Miracles.  Finding the title intriguing I sat down and read the article.  Among the economic and social good news the article listed to justify the use of the term “miracles”  was the contention that the last 70 decades have been the most peaceful that humanity has known. I found this claim hard to believe but the author said that  in the last 70 years the world has not had a world war. Perhaps not. But what about the Korean War, the 6-day War, the Desert Storm, the Bosnian War, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? I will not even mention the “small wars” in Africa and in mainland Asia. Nor our own Mindanao war. These were not  world wars but most certainly these were wars. The most peaceful 7 decades?  You will have to convince me.

Perhaps my problem is that I just might be suffering from  unwarranted pessimism.  Here I was grateful for the progress of the GRP-MILF peace talks and hopeful for the finally seeing the end of  hostilities in Mindanao and  then- bang!- the Mamasapano tragic incident took place.

I wrote  in an earlier column  that “God writes straight in crooked lines”.  Perhaps I should be more optimistic and believe that the divine handwriting will very soon improve. May it be so.