Sunday, October 09, 2011

Reasons to smile

"Taken by Pirates" in today's NY Times Magazine takes readers where they do not want to go.  No one wants to be abducted, of course, but some behind-the-scenes looks at the hell-holes of Somalia makes the story worth reading.

I am reading Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature which is living up to expectations.  It is (so far) just as good as the rave reviews (Peter Singer's is in today's NY Times).  Pinker does great work and he develops my favorite theme:  Life on the planet is slowly (if unevenly) getting better.

It is, of course, a hard sell.  See story on piracy.  See the evening news.  But moral progress may be the most profound theme.  Faith in a better world (here or hereafter) has helped people through the worst of times.  But when smart people like Pinker assemble credible evidence to buttress that faith, then we have reasons to smile.