Thursday, January 07, 2010

In the right direction....

Reading around various websites and forums recently, I got the feeling that people, in some perverse way, seem to be at best concentrating on negativity, and at worst almost willing on catastrophe and World War 3. Heading towards yet more war, especially of the World War variety is not the direction in which the world is supposed to be moving. Later I read an article by Stephen Gyllenhaal: Peace On Earth, the last paragraph struck a chord, then led me back to something else. The last para:
I'll take it all and keep right on moving -- one little ant doing his little bit among six billion other ants, because one day, you son's of bitches who talk peace and deliver war, who talk health and deliver illness, who talk good and do bad -- some day, mother f--ckers there will be peace on this planet -- real peace -- because time, real time, is on the side of evolution.
That thought of evolution catapulted me back to this 2007 article which I have mentioned before on this blog, but do not apoligise for re-airing: "A History of Violence" by Steven Pinker is interesting and a little uplifiting, though not without its own warning. As a prelude it states:
"In the decade of Darfur and Iraq, and shortly after the century of Stalin, Hitler, and Mao, the claim that violence has been diminishing may seem somewhere between hallucinatory and obscene. Yet recent studies that seek to quantify the historical ebb and flow of violence point to exactly that conclusion."
Steven Pinker goes on to present his theory that, in spite of current world events, in his opinion man has become less violent over the millennia, centuries and decades. The article is well worth reading in full. He finishes with this paragraph:
"But the phenomenon does force us to rethink our understanding of violence. Man's inhumanity to man has long been a subject for moralization. With the knowledge that something has driven it dramatically down, we can also treat it as a matter of cause and effect. Instead of asking, "Why is there war?" we might ask, "Why is there peace?" From the likelihood that states will commit genocide to the way that people treat cats, we must have been doing something right. And it would be nice to know what, exactly, it is."
I want to shout out "Astrological Ages, sir?"

Age of Taurus, Age of Aries - two previous Ages when, in spite of progress in many other areas, violence and inhumanity to man flourished. The Bull and The Ram - neither signifies peace and fellowship, and the history of those Ages broadly matches the symbolism. It wasn't until The Age of Pisces dawned, that there was any sign of a very, very slow movement away from violence - but SO very slow that unless someone like Steven Pinker outlines the stages, and spells it all out, it's impossible to see. If we could have a magical video of the history of man on Earth, fast-forwarded at lightning speed, then it might become clear that we are indeed heading in the right direction, strange as it seems.

Astrologers cannot agree whether we are still in the Age of Pisces or on the cusp of the Age of Aquarius, or have entered it already. Whichever way one prefers to think, neither Pisces nor Aquarius symbolises violence. We must still be working through the dregs of what was left of the Age of Aries, I guess. Perhaps we are nowhere near as far along the astrological age trail as some suspect. But we are moving in a good direction.

Steven Pinker adds
"It is not a license for complacency: We enjoy the peace we find today because people in past generations were appalled by the violence in their time and worked to end it, and so we should work to end the appalling violence in our time. Nor is it necessarily grounds for optimism about the immediate future, since the world has never before had national leaders who combine pre-modern sensibilities with modern weapons."
We do have to accept that we live in risky times, of course. To continually focus on that fact, as so many tend to do these days, is not going to make things any less risky. All it does is to spread doom and gloom and take the joy from the life we have.

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