Shall we have an era of sense, sometime soon?

Last year, a woman in India was brutally raped and severely injured by a gang, and died of her injuries. This week, a court ordered that four of her attackers be executed. In India few expect that this will result in a reduction in the rate of rapist attacks in that country.  So what is the point of these executions? They satisfy, perhaps, a sense of justice, but their substantive effect is in doubt for most Indians. The story of the crime, and the horror of its outcome, far exceed the impact of the punishment for it. A profound distaste for executions, and violent death of any kind, seems to have overtaken us Americans. An example: we have decided that we really don’t want to send cruise missiles into Syria to punish the beastly Bashr Al-Assad for gassing his own citizens to death in a dastardly chemical weapons attack. Maybe Steve Pinker, who wrote “The Better Angels of Our Nature” has hit upon something very profound. He offers statistical evidence that (surprisingly) violence is in decline, and offers some psychological reasons why that is so. Maybe all of us Americans are just darned tired of all this killing that has gone on, but the explanation might be bigger than that. It might be that world-wide, people have turned away from violence. Let it be so.

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