April 20, 2006

Human nature - better than we sometimes think?

Comment on the power indviduals have to create damage and chaos - yet how few do so... how most people are responsible, law abiding citizens who respect those around them:

Yes you are right about the asymmetry of antisocial acts in terms of effort for impact - and this has always been a problem for society eg the tiny effort needed to commit arson, or to daub graffiti on walls, or to deliberately drive a car into a bus queue. Yet the strange thing is how rarely these acts happen, and how powerful is the social pressure on people to "behave" in a way that respects community.

The same with theft. It amazes me how few people carrying laptops in their bags, or using them on tube trains, are mugged for what is a very valuable item....

The vast majority of people in every country most of the time act in ways that enhance community.

Most people give time to community causes they believe in, and so on...

Yes the problems of society are huge and growing and the answers are complex, but the innate creativity of human beings and their passion for change should also not be underestimated.

It is indeed the reason why suicide bombers blow themselves up, in a
(misguided) ultruistic belief that the world will be a better place as a result of their "self sacrifice".

The other noteworthy thing is how resilient society is to major shocks.

Take London in the second world war when one in 4 of all homes were rendered unusable because of random rocket attacks. The result? Life went on. That's why we know that a few suicide bombers in London, even if more arrive, cannot possibly alter daily life in a major way. Actually we have lived with terrorism (IRA) in the UK for several decades.

You see the same in war-torn regions of Africa... in the midst of instability and troubles, daily existence for most people usually continues relatively unchanged (compared to what some might imagine).