I went to the US for the first time earlier this year and visiting Washington DC was rather grounding. It a city full of monuments and reminders of sacrifices made. Wondering the Newseum (a museum dedicated to news - or more accurately to free speech and the history of world) is like paging through your photo album - but in this case the bigger your. In the search for happiness, the approaches that appeal to me the most are very practical. Exercise. Relax. Eat Well. Breathe Well. Have a Positive approach. Do something Meaningful. Invest in Relationships. I am regularly struck however by how lucky those of us are that get to focus on these things.
I do believe more and more of us are getting to, and I don't subscribe to the 'Good Old Days' theory. If you choose a bunch of measures of what is important to you, and look over a long enough period, life tends to get better. 'The Better Angels of Our Nature' takes a look at the history of violence and makes me very grateful to be living today.
We live parallel lives though. While many of us get to live a world that is less racist, less sexist, less violent, more engaging and becoming happier - war rumbles on. Last night I watched 'Dirty Wars' - a documentary about the Joint Special Operations Command - effectively a modern day assassin group. I am always wary of conspiratorial stories. I am also aware that we can't possibly vote on all decisions that need to be made and that many are really tough with no clear answers. While adding a dose of Granny perspective to my own problems, the documentary did make me feel proud, if that is the word, that we have this constant self reflection and debate. I don't know what to think about many of these issues that I haven't applied my mind to sufficiently. Israel-Palestine is a another conflict that I feel completely lost in the woods about. I like that there are lots of really smart people who live in a world where we can debate our way inch by inch closer to solutions (see the Affleck-Maher debate below) to very difficult questions. War is messy. I am not sure you could have a documentary Civil War meaning 'Courteous and Polite'.
Bullets aren't as effective as Ideas, but we haven't learned how to retire them yet.