Sunday, December 30, 2012
In fact, a big misconception is that we're so much more violent today than our ancestors were yesterday. Media exploitation aside, the data actually shows rates of violence and violent death have declined over the past few thousand years, and our ability to empathize, curb our violent impulses and value human life has never been higher. Steven Pinker does an amazing job of explaining this all in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. The rates of violence today really are lower than they've ever been.
Even those experts who don't necessarily agree with all the violence-declining theories Pinker postulates in his book do agree that statistically speaking we've gotten less violent as a species, not more violent. And the increase of impulse control and how we value human life is a big part of that.
Until it's not and control is again lost in horrific examples where we regress quite rapidly, the latest in the news makes it seem like there's a crazy on every corner ready to kill us and our children.
But it was the news I saw posted from my friends at The Pixel Project about the gang-rape in New Delhi of a 23-year-old medical student, and her eventual death from her injuries, that really stopped me cold. Of course I immediately thought of my own two young daughters and the fact that they could be 23-year-old medical students someday and that even with the overall decline in violence, violence against women is still a worldwide scourge.
Many women's rights advocates say that rapes, sex crimes and violent deaths go unreported in many parts of the world, even in the U.S. And for those reported, nearly 1.3 million women and about 835,000 men are assaulted by their partner every year in the United States.
We're not talking random rape here like in the recent India example. According to a National Women’s Study that sampled a total of 4,008 women, 13 percent of all adult women become rape victims during their lifetime. About 9 percent of the female victims were raped by their husbands or ex-husbands, nearly 10 percent were raped by their boyfriends or ex-boyfriends. Additionally, 11 percent of the female victims were raped by their fathers or stepfathers, and 16 percent were raped by other relatives.
The outrage in India has sparked protests and a cry for justice, but it also needs to be a cry for self-control and an even greater value of human life, for those we know and those we don't.
The picture of protesting Indian schoolchildren holding up declarative signs moves me to write yet again about putting an end to violence against women and intimate partner violence for both women and men, to renew my investment in 2013 in generating empathy, increasing impulse control from the day we're born, and elevating a little higher, however incremental, our value of one another, our children and our children's children.
Do Not Touch Me, My Dress Is Not A Yes
Indeed it is not. The Mama and I and our girls concur and we hold our signs on high.