Logo

Theological Editions - Indepth daily religious news, views, reviews & key theological resources
Features

In-depth religious news, views, reviews, features & resources for the thinking person
 

Resources

Bible
Sermons

Liturgy & Prayer

News & Magazines

Journals

Texts & Resources

Home

Is global violence on the increase? Don't be fooled by what you see on TV
by Graeme J. Davidson
30 Sept 2006

We’re convinced there’s a growing pandemic of violence making the world more dangerous than ever. And our fears are making us willing to trade civil rights for security. That’s the perception. But has global violence actually increased?

....The Californian worshippers said Amen to the prayers for peace. Heads nodded when the pastor preached about seeking a non-violent solution to the conflict with Libya. Yet at coffee after church, many boasted to me of how America had kicked butt. It was 1986 and in an effort to stop Libyan-sponsored terrorism, US warplanes had just bombed targets in Libya, killing 37 civilians.
....Obviously, for some, subduing enemies by force is the answer to prayers for peace. It’s what the devout President Bush has tried to do in the American-lead war on terror. Yet, according to a recent report by 16 US spy agencies, the US involvement in Iraq has fuelled Islamic radicalism.
....Despite White House claims that “America and its allies are safer”, the report says the terrorist threat has grown since September 11 – adding to international feelings of insecurity.
....Switch on the TV news and you’re assailed with violence and misery caused by conflict and terror. It’s a theme echoed by politicians and in magazines, books, Hollywood dramas, video games – and prayers for peace. We’re convinced there’s a growing pandemic of violence making the world more dangerous than ever. And our fears are making us willing to trade civil rights for security.
....That’s the perception. But has global violence actually increased?
....In his book, War Before Civilisation, Lawrence H Keeley argues there was a far greater chance of dying by the sword in the days of tribal warfare than there is of dying in a conflict today. According to Keeley, our ancestors faced the “cumulative effects of frequent but low-casualty battles, the unmitigated deadliness and very high frequency of raids, the catastrophic mortalities inflicted in general massacres, the customary killing of all adult males and the often atrocious treatment of women and children”.
....He suggests that if we still behaved like this, war deaths in the twentieth century would have soared to over two billion.
....We would expect one in 200 of our population to die in battle every year. Worldwide, that’s about 32.5 million war fatalities a year.
....If we go back fifty years to 1956, there were 11 major conflicts: the Algerian, Malay, and Arab-Israeli wars; the Sudanese, Burmese, Laotian and Vietnam Civil wars; the Cuban revolution; the Hungarian and Argentinean revolts and the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya.
....Tragically, these clashes produced many more causalities than today’s conflicts.
....Here’s the good news. According to the Human Security Report 2005, deaths from conflicts plummeted from an average of 38,000 deaths per conflict in 1950 to 600 in 2002. Armed conflicts and violent coups declined by 40 percent. Genocides and political killings plunged 80 percent.
....Despite violence in Iraq and the threat of weapons of mass destruction, the numbers of international crises, arms sales, troop numbers, and refugees from conflicts have also fallen dramatically.
....And in spite of the horrific TV images and the personal tragedy, international terrorism kills small numbers compared to those slaughtered in wars.
....Reasons for the decrease in global violence are the end of colonial wars and the cessation of the super powers funding insurgents during the Cold War. There’s been an increase in democracy and economic help to develop conflict-prone areas, as well as preventive diplomacy, assistance from non-government agencies and the deployment of peacemakers and peacekeepers.
....In other words, peace doesn’t mean appeasement or believing we are powerless to change warrior mindsets. It comes from working hard to eliminate the causes of violence.
....To this end, efforts are now underway to create a New Zealand Peace and Conflict Studies Centre involving universities, government and peace groups.
....The proposed centre would research the causes of conflict, conflict resolution and peace-building, as well as providing degree courses and training.
....So far, three universities, including Victoria University, have shown interest in hosting the centre.
Nevertheless, the danger of having a peace and conflict centre at a university is that the project will be highjacked by ivory tower academics keen to create erudite career-enhancing information for other academics.
....According to The Human Security Report 2005, a major reason for the drop in global violence is a shift in our attitudes. Most of us no longer think war is noble or that peace happens by sending the military to kick butt.
....Jesus’ edict “Blessed are the peacemakers” is something we’re taking to heart and we Kiwis can be rightfully proud of our contribution to international peace efforts.

 


 

 

See also
Should we intervene to prevent suicide? >> more
Divorce risk indicator >> more
When you feel like you're sharing a bed with a stranger >> more
Surving the breakup >> more
Suicide terrorism as a desperate weapon of liberation >> more
Ned Flanders — popular face of Christianity >> more
Seven common myths about religion >> more
Moral divide between church leaders and laity >> more
Unholy silence over MPs hypocrisy and greed >> more
Anglican schism over gay clergy inevitable >> more
My agonising path to enlightenment >> more
More than ever, it's a time for generosity >> more
National's ethics smell of political expediency >> more
Pope's trip to Holy Land fraught with potholes >> more
The resurrection may have been superfluous >> more
Rasputin — from sinner and seducer to saint? >> more
Religious delusions and the Jerusalem syndrome >> more
Protest mild compared with Jesus' vandalism >> more
What Castro and Obama have in common >> more
Holidays can revive romance or widen cracks between couples >> more
Dubious scholarship reinterprets Jesus to fit secular creed >> more
Furore over gay marriage echoes the conflict over slavery >> more
If only politics were as certain as dear old granny >> more
You've got to have faith to win the White House >> more
The problem of evil >> more
TV Programmers let lose Roman circus >> more
Prostitutes welcome in the kingdom of God but not in Dannevirke >> more
Church too busy navel-gazing to take lead over crime >> more
Will the Anglican Church split over gay clergy and same-sex unions? >> more
Faith in secular western society >> more
The Vatican's pelvic theology >> more
Abuse and the Beijing Olympics >> more
Would the real Jesus stand up? >> more
Hypersensitivity perverts ethics >> more
God and presidential hopefuls >> more
A three-ghetto church based on politics >> more
Good and bad intentions >> more
Deliver us from exorcists who harm >> more
How effective is prayer? >> more
Masters of non-violence, resistance and kung fu >> more
Was Mother Teresa living a lie? >> more
Double standards over child sex abuse >> more
Soppy inspirational and pseudo-spiritual emails >> more
Caring organisations and pyschopathic bosses >> more
The new anti-religious evangelists >> more
Call for religious education could backfire >> more
Blessing creatures great & small — but what about blowflies? >> more
Does God exist only in the brain? >> more
The Prudes who crucify >> more
tomb raiders and the bones of Jesus and his family? >> more
Jesus loves Osama >> more
Is God more like a matchbox or a number? >> more
Confessions of a failed axe murderer >> more
Bacchanalian festivals and sentimentality >> more
Manners: insignificant social customs? >> more
The 109 fighting boys >> more
Trying to exhume the historical Jesus >> more
Is global violence really on the increase? >> more
Polygamy, circumcision, atheist journalists and religious diversity >> more
The Christian Right stands by Israel out of a misguided theology  >> more 
What a rat taught me >> more
The Church is becoming a retirement hobby for granny clergy >> more 
Is there an anti-Christian conspiracy in Hollywood? >> more
Have church schools sold out on Christianity? >> more
How good a Christian is President George W Bush? >> more

Hitler, Lawyers, Politicians SUV owners and life after death >> more

Were the Christian hostages really idiots for peace? >> more
Infidelity: in hot pursuit of a better organsm or better intimacy? >> more
Skulduggery and controversy over discovery of religious texts >> more
The cartoons aren't about secular freedoms versus intolerance >> more

Christian Zionists hinder justice and peace in the Middle East >> more

Should making more money be your New Year's resolution? >> more
My early life as a black sheep in a nativity scene >> more
Different types of suicide bomber: what makes them tick >> more
Cheating a short cut to sucess in winner-take-all society >> more
Life after death: Is it logically possible? >> more
Is it Anglican to practise apartheid? >> more
Da Vinci Code unlocks controversy>> more
Bishops' statement: pompous, pious, out of touch and verging on the heretical >> more 
Church leaders unconvincing over prostitution law reform >> more
Divorce risk factors >> more
How global are we?  A Christian's view of globalisation >> more
Victims of dirty tricks & friendly fire: Machiavellian tactics in the Church militant >> more
A redundant resurrection >> more
War, violence, ethics, religion and hypocrisy >> more
If St Peter was interviewed for ordination today >> more
13 ways to empty a church without really trying >> more
How tolerant is the Museum of Tolerance? >> more
A church comes out and reconciliation divides >> more
Micah's dream — too much to ask? >> more
Has the revised Anglican Church in New Zealand instigated a benign form of religious apartheid? >> more
The case for St Judas Iscariot >> more
Exorcism: the ministry of deliverance >> more

Top