Thursday, January 10, 2019

"The Better Angels of Our Nature" Steven Pinker. West. Civ. Series.

Last time I wrote, I offered "Present at the Creation:  My Years in the State Department" by Dean Acheson as the starting point for a little narrative that I intend to continue with the help of the books of my life.

The next stop on this journey is Steven Pinker's "The Better Angels of Our Nature" from 2011.

At the risk of sounding cliche, or repeating myself,  what Pinker does in this history is altogether beyond imagination.

If the first book I shared is egotistically taking credit for the modern world order, this book is the unsolicited amalgamation of so many stats, information, history, and anecdotes across many human conditions that validate that world order as both remarkable and benevolent.

The book doesn't set out to validate anyone,  this is my rationalization.   In fact the book  begins centuries before the 20th century, its starts with prehistory in fact, through the bible era, and so on.   But why its the second book in my narrative is that this book will shake you of any false insecurities you may be holding,  insecurities that are often agitated by malevolent actors who pedal in anger and misconceptions.

Yet mankind is historically a violent animal.  Very violent,  horrifically violent, and if you are into that sort of thing this is also the right book for you, the tales of torture were not my thing, but they are prevalent .

But the culmination of this book is the evidence that despite what we were, we are not that bad anymore.

The state of the nature between ourselves is almost angelic, relatively speaking,  and if I had my druthers this book,  "The Better Angels of Our Nature" would be the first book every single person ought to read.

Read this book,  and most of the politics that passes for common sense behind certain sectors falls right away.  Its a read that the smart policy makers have read because it dispels the notion that things are only getting worse.  They focus on real problems therefore, armed with the understanding of the trends and realities you'd want a smart policy maker to understand.

Chances are, if you can quantify a particular brooding topic someone claims, this book will have the evidence that the numbers are going in a good direction, not the wrong direction.  Relax and move on.

But there is so much more here too.  Plain advice, insightful wisdom,  clinical study findings.  It probably is the most influential book of the 21st century, and if it isn't, its right near the top.   I won't get too far elsewhere before Steven Pinker is quoted about something.
Oh, and he has a sequel out. 

Do yourself a favor, and appreciate the world around you a little more,  the facts are it hasn't ever been better and the U.S. world order is not only a worthy progeny of what came before, but has undoubtedly been a major impetus of declining violence and an improved nature between states.  --  Better Angels of Our Nature --  Present at the Creation

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