May 28, 2013

Have Faith or Do Not Have Faith in Humanity

It's probably only if you live in a First World country that you start pondering the 'Big Questions' when a man gets killed/murdered/lynched/hacked or dies naturally.

Take a look at this Guardian article where the writer is wondering ... rather proclaiming that she STILL HAS FAITH in Humanity despite witnessing the Woolwich murder.

One has to be really ... ummm delicate perhaps to be someone who can be moved to ponder the big questions when one person dies. So I was driven to put in this comment on The Guardian article:

People in developed nations can be so coddled!
Come to India or go visit and live in some other poor African nation.
You will see poverty and the ramifications thereof left, right and center.
Then, we shall see how much faith in humanity you will be left with.

I am not being cynical. We in India learn to accept human tragedies as sadly there are too many of them and we inevitably even become inured to them.
People in poor nations mostly do not have the luxury of grieving over their dead dog. Or to take it to a vet and spa and what not. Or to have a pet.
Most people in the world — and I am talking about the seven billion plus total inhabitants — are poor folks who scratch out a hardscrabble existence and mostly do not have time to reflect on whether they have faith in humanity or not.
These sort of idyllic reflections are things that very few people in the developing nations of the world can afford.
One man was hacked to death on a street in London.
What other tragedies can we think of from the recent past?
The Moore, OK hurricanes ... tornadoes or whatever. Hurricane Sandy before that. The Newtown school shootings.
Tens or dozens of people died in each of those events except Sandy perhaps.
Are we forgetting something? Oh yes. That Bangladesh factory collapse. A death toll of 1,100 plus. Daily or weekly death tolls numbering in the hundreds in Pakistan/Iraq. More in Syria of course.
Both writers reflecting on whether they still have faith in humanity and readers who read those articles and are themselves propelled to reflect on their own faith in humanity should remember the reality of the world. Let us not lose sight of perspectives.
I am reminded of Steven Pinker's Better Angels of Our Nature. He has argued that violence is on a steady and even steep declining curve when you look at the broad span of human history. Murders and other forms of violence such as rapes are declining. Is that something some people find hard to believe? Sure. That's again just human nature. If we ourselves are going through hard times, we are inclined to be pessimistic and then will believe that the end of the world is near. In general, the young will tend to be optimistic and the old will tend to be pessimistic.
And then the global media is also responsible today for magnifying tragedies by looping the same videos around the clock all around the world. So we may get the impression that more tragedies are happening in the world than ever before which may not in fact be the case.
At least, we seem to be done with wars on the scale of those world wars of the 20th century.
In conclusion: Boy! One has to have SOME narrow perspective to start reflecting on their faith in humanity just on the basis of witnessing or experiencing one murder.
May be I should have thought about whether I have faith in humanity or not when my dad died five years ago. Or, may be I will lose faith in humanity when my mom dies at some point in the future.

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