I remember standing there, in that place, and musing on the brutality of sport in that time compared to the brutality of modern-day sports and how far mankind has progressed over the past three-thousand years or so. Mind you, there are still plenty of barbaric sports around, even in Western society. Football isn't all that sophisticated and Rugby seems to be only an excuse to fight legally in public. Add to that a few other winners like boxing and hockey and the degradation of modern-day cage fighting and you have to wonder if things have changed all that much.
But then, there are some bright spots, like the banning in Spain of the most barbaric "sport" I have ever witnessed, bull fighting.
A spate of recent books, "including one by prominent Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker reveal dramatic reductions in war deaths, family violence, racism, rape, murder and all sorts of mayhem." according to an article in this morning's newspaper.
The facts seem to speak for themselves:
- The number of people killed in battle - calculated per 100,000 population - has dropped by 1,000% over the centuries. Before organized countries, battles killed on average 500 out of every 100,000 people. In 19th century France, it was 70. In the 20th century, with two world wars and a few genocides, it was 60. Today, 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.
- Murder in European countries has fallen from 100 per 100,000 in the 14th and 15th centuries to about 1 per 100,000 now.
Damn, you learn something every day.