By Davey Wavey

I’ll admit that, if you watch cable news networks or read the paper, you might be inclined to think that we all live in a terrible, ultra-violent world wherein wars are raging, massacres are common and rape is the norm. When you turn on the TV, examples of these violent acts are everywhere—from the war in Afghanistan to the uprisings in the Middle East to the Jerry Sandusky trial.

Our world can look pretty sick and twisted—and it’s obvious to see why so many people are terrified to travel the world. These cautious individuals stick close to home because it’s what they know. Venturing out seems far too risky.

Of course, violent stories and images capture our attention and eyeballs—and, as such, help sell ad spots for the news media. It’s a simple formula that capitalizes off of our evolutionary instincts. And, because we see these images so often, it’s easy to forget that they are the exception rather than the norm.

Consider this: Historically speaking, we are enjoying the most peaceful period in human history. Read that line again. It’s shocking—but it’s true. Statistics demonstrate huge reductions in war deaths, family violence, racism, rape, murder and the like all across our planet.

A Harvard psychologist named Steven Pinker recently wrote a book on the subject. Here are a few of his findings:

• The number of people killed in battle has dropped by 1,000-fold. Centuries ago, it was 500 deaths per 100,000. Today it’s three-tenths of a person per 100,000.
• The rate of genocide deaths per world population was 1,400 times higher in 1942 than in 2008.
• There are 5x more democracies now than in 1946 (and 1/3 the number of dictatorships).
• Murder in European countries has steadily fallen from near 100 per 100,000 people in the 14th and 15th centuries to about 1 per 100,000 people now.
• Rape in the United States is down 80 percent since 1973.
• Discrimination against blacks and gays is down, as is capital punishment, the spanking of children, and child abuse.

This isn’t to say that bad things don’t happen. Sure, there are pockets of trouble, violence and crime here and there—but they’ve never been so far and few between as they are now.

In other words, don’t let the images you see on TV or in the newspaper overly color your perception of the world—or prevent you from doing the things you want to do or taking the trips you want to take. The world has never been more peaceful—and there’s never been a better time to travel!

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