Most people don't appreciate just how peaceful an era we live in.  None of us was alive a thousand years ago so we easily forget how much more violent the world used to be.  And as wars become rarer they attract more attention.  Many more people think about the wars raging today in Afghanistan and Iraq than about the peace in which most Brazilian and Indians live.
 Even more importantly, it is easier to relate to the suffering of individuals than of entire populations.  However, in order to understand macro-historical processes, we need to exam in mass statistics rather than individual stories.  In the year 2000, wars caused the death of 310,000 individual and violent crime killed another 520,000.  Each and every victim is a world destroyed, a family ruined, friends and relatives scarred for life.  Yet, from a macro perspective, these 830,000 victims comprised only 1.5 per cent of the 56 million people who died in 2000.  That year, 1.26 million people died in car accidents (2.25 per cent of total mortality) and 815,000 people committed suicide (1.45 per cent).
 The figures for 2002 are even more surprising.  Out of 57 million dead, only 172,000 people died in war and 569,000 died of violent crime (a total of 741,000 victims of human violence).  In contrast, 873,000 people committed suicide.  It turns out that in the year following the 9/11 attacks, despite all the talk of terrorism and war, the average person was more likely to kill himself than to be killed by a terrorist, a soldier, or a drug dealer.
 In most parts of the world, people go to sleep without fearing that in the middle of the night, a neighboring tribe might surround their village and slaughter everyone.  Well-off British subjects travel daily from Nottingham to London through Sherwood Forest without fear that a gang of merry green-clad brigands will ambush them and take their money to give to the poor (or, more likely, murder them and take the money for themselves).  Students brook no canings from their teachers, children need not fear that they will be sold into slavery when their parents can't pay their bills, and women know that the law forbids their husbands from beating them and forcing them to stay at home.  Increasingly, around the world, these expectations are fulfilled.
 The decline of violence is due largely to the rise of the state.  Throughout history, most violence resulted from local feuds between families and communities.  (Even today, as the above figures indicate, local crime is a far deadlier threat than international wars.)  As we have seen, early farmers who knew no political organizations larger than the local community suffered rampant violence.  As kingdoms and empires became powerful, they reined in communities and the level of violence decreased.  In the decentralized kingdoms of medieval Europe, about 20 to 40 people were murdered each year for every 100,000 inhabitants.  In recent decades, when states and markets have become all-powerful and communities have vanished, violence rates have dropped even further.  Today the global average is only nine murders a year per 100,000 people and most of these murders take place in weak states such as Somalia and Colombia.  In the centralized states of Europe, the average is one murder a year per 100,000 people.
 There are certainly cases where states use their power to kill their own citizens, and these often loom large in our memories and fears.  During the twentieth century, tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of people were killed by the security forces of their own states.  Still, from a macro perspective, state-run courts and police forces have probably increased the level of security worldwide.  Even in oppressive dictatorships, the average modern person is far less likely to die at the hands of another person than in premodern societies.  In 1964, a military dictatorship was established in Brazil.  It ruled the country until 1985.  During these twenty years, several thousand Brazilians were murdered by the regime. Thousands more were imprisoned and tortured.  Yet, even in the worst years, the average Brazilian in Rio de Janeiro was far less likely to die at human hands than the average Waorani, Arawete, or Yanomamo.  The Waorani, Arawete, and Yanomamo are indigenous people who live in the depths of the Amazon forest, without army, police, or prisons.
(This article has been picked from the book 'Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind' by Yuval Noah Harari and has been edited for use.)