“Same-sex marriage remains a topic of heated debate and opposition [for some people]. There were fierce protests in the streets of Paris, and large regions of the United States still resist the introduction of gay marriage [some places in Africa, prison or even worse is the penalty for being homosexual]. That will not be the case for very much longer, according to Michael Shermer. He even claims that in 25 years’ time it will be fully accepted. Why? Because moral progress is undeniable, and it is happening so fast that [most] conservatives today are more progressive–in the way they talk and think about women, homosexuals, Jews and minorities–than progressives were half a century ago.
Against a backdrop of grim news reports–about everything from the increase of race riots to Islamic terror–Shermer has written an impressive book. In The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom, Shermer cheerfully argues that the world has made tremendous progress over the past few centuries. And the end of this moral arc — the title is a reference to a famous speech by Martin Luther King Jr. — is nowhere in sight.
Shermer perceives the progress in the way people treat one another as an ‘improvement in the survival and flourishing of sentient beings.’ Armed with graphs and figures, as well as a rich arsenal of colorful examples, he delivers proof of the continuous extension of our circle of empathy. For instance, democracy and human rights have meant that freedom and justice are now quite common for an increasing number of people. Our moral sphere has expanded. In the past, our group was limited to our own family, clan or village. These days, there is a worldwide community we can feel empathy toward. By now even animals are benefiting from that expansion, something that a hundred years ago would have been absolutely inconceivable. [Fran & Roy, Rosita, Pam, Chris . . . are people I know, for instance, who are animal advocates].
According to Shermer, all of this can be attributed to scientific, rational thinking” – review from Marco Visscher in The Optimist, Summer 2015, p. 95.
I ordered my copy from Alibris Books: for $6.99 plus shipping for a hardcover in very good condition.
When it is so easy to get discouraged by all the bad behavior in the world, this books reminds us that most people are acting in more compassionate ways–and we will continue to grow.
I feel hopeful for the world.
Okay, let’s get back to work; there is much to be done.