Have you ever heard of Anna Politkovskaya?
She was a Russian journalist who regularly reported on Vladimir Putin's undermining of press and other freedoms in Russia. This past weekend she was murdered.
If you are debating whether to be optimistic or pessimistic about humanity's future, here is a point to consider: In every generation, especially in the last century, vast numbers of good people -- often the best people -- have been murdered by the worst people.
Think about all the decent (and, of course, some indecent) people Stalin murdered among his 20 million to 30 million victims. Think about many of the best people in Poland being systematically executed when Soviet agents rounded up the elite of Polish society and massacred them in the Katyn Forest in 1940. What effect did that massacre have on Poland's development?
Think about the decent Germans the Nazis murdered. And, of course, think about the Holocaust, the murder of six million Jews in Europe. Given the wildly disproportionate role Jews play in medical discoveries, the arts and other areas that improve society, the price paid by the world (forgetting for a moment the unbelievable loss to the Jews) because of the Holocaust, is immeasurable. Only God knows what cures for diseases the near-extermination of European Jewry deprived the world of, what great symphonies we will never hear, what inventions we will not be allowed to benefit from.
Consider the millions of decent Chinese -- those who wanted freedom for their people -- murdered by Mao Tse-tung.
In North Korea, it is not far-fetched to believe that almost every Korean who has expressed a decent thought has been murdered by the psychopaths running North Korea for half a century.
Think about those slaughtered by Islamic murderers in the last few years. Compare them with the victims -- Iraqis fighting for freedom, thousands of Americans working to provide for their families in the most tolerant society in the world, Israelis living in one of the world's most humane societies and unknown individuals in Muslim countries trying to bring their governments out of the dark age.
Consider the type of Homo sapiens who literally slaughtered Daniel Pearl -- the Wall Street Journal reporter whose life was dedicated (perhaps naively, but nobly) to promoting understanding between peoples -- and compare them with him. You then have the paradigm of what has been happening for a hundred years -- the worst of humanity eradicating the best of humanity.
You have to wonder how long the world can endure the constant removal of many of its finest souls, and the simultaneous survival and reproduction of many of its most vicious.